The Andhra Pradesh High Court took suo moto cognizance in the Visakhapatnam gas leak incident. Chief Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari and Justice Lalitha Kanneganthi heard the matter.
Furthermore, the Court appointed Senior Counsel YV Ravi Prasad as Amicus Curiae in this matter.
The Gas Leak Incident
On Thursday morning the gas leak claimed 11 lives. Thereby, affecting several residents of five villages in Vishakhapatnam. The styrene gas was leaking from a chemical plant named LG Polymers India (South Korean company) at 3.30 AM. People felt breathing problems and started evacuating the place. This incident caused much damage to life and property.
Court’s Observation and Directions
The Court directed the State to take the necessary steps to mitigate the loss caused so far by the incident. Styrene is a dangerous substance under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act. Its inhalation is dangerous to human life. Moreover, as per the Chemical Accident (Emergency Planning, Preparedness, and Response) Rules of 1996, various crisis response steps ought to be taken. Accordingly, the Court said it will enquire upon it later.
The Court stated
“It is a matter of enquiry and assessment that the provisions of the said Rules have observed or not.”
Court’s primary focus was to provide medical treatment to the victims. For this, they said that NDRF must evacuate the persons living near that Industry.
Also, the court directed the government and local hospitals to provide treatment to the affected persons. Additionally, private hospitals were also asked to give medical aid to the needy. The Court showed its concern to provide enough food to all, with importance to children and women. The Government should make sure that fire services can reach the site as it’ll reduce the effect of the gas leak.
It directed the State Government to appoint a Committee, not below the rank of Principal Secretaries. The Committee will check the activities and file a compliance report within a week. The Court has clarified that the Chief Secretary of the State will look into the entire action of the Disaster Management Authority.
The Centre informed the Court that NDRF teams were sent to Visakhapatnam. It issued directions and precautions that the State Government must follow. The court gave the State an opportunity to request the Centre for more personnel from reserved forces. If the State feels NDRF isn’t enough for the purpose it can include removal of people, shifting them for medical aids, provision of food and nutrition, etc.
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