The Andhra Pradesh HC on Friday, May 22, 2020, gave some crucial directions on Vizag gas leak incident. The directions included the seizure of the LG Polymers plant at Vizag by the State Government.
The Court’s Involvement
On May 7, the styrene gas vapour escaped from the chemical plant which injured people and took lives.
Consequently, the Court took suo moto cognisance in the matter. In addition to this, many people have filed various PIL in this regard. Justices Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari and Lalitha Kanneganti are dealing with the matter. The Court issued specific directions.
Directions by the Court
- Firstly, Govt. will seize the company and will allow no one on the premises, including the directors of the company.
- If a Committee, appointed wants to check the area, they must put a note on the Register at the gate of the company. While returning, they must also put a note about the act down on the premises.
- Meanwhile, without the Court’s leave the company’s assets, movable or immovable, will not shift.
- The Company Directors have surrendered their passports and are present in India. Their passport should not be released. They are not allowed to go outside India without leave of the Court.
- The Govt. should inform the Court if there was any permit to restart the company’s work during the lockdown. If not, a report on the action taken should be filed.
- The NGT, the Central Govt and the State Govt have various committees over the issue. Thus, the Govt. may inform the Court on which Committee must answer all questions raised on the issue.
- The Court had earlier ordered the State and the Central Govt to submit action taken report. Both have filed their respective affidavits. However, the Court found that their replies are silent on specific critical issues, as mentioned in the following Section.
Further Critical Issues
- LG Polymers has been operating without a valid Environmental Clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
- Inhibitor concentration in the storage tank remained unchecked.
- The refrigeration system was not working.
- The radius of the vulnerable zone extended up to 6.3km from the source.
- There are many hospitals, schools, railway stations, airports and other public spaces within the zone.
- Information of the risk involved and methods to exit in the case of problems is information that people have a right to as per Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989. But this was not done.
- The siren/ alarm system did not function.
The Government authorities seek time to inform the Court on the above-mentioned issues. The Court directed the Government to give information on more issues:
- What is the net worth of LG Polymers Pvt. Ltd. as per the provisions of the Companies Act, but not as per the book value?
- Who was responsible for transporting styrene to South Korea, and what was their reasoning?
The Government has to file a report before the Court on the following directions by May 26. The case is on the list for hearing on May 28, 2020.
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