The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Bench, on Friday directed the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to convene a meeting of secretaries of the ministries of Environment and Forest and Industry, and the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, and oil companies to chalk out a clear-cut plan to mitigate the damage caused by the recent oil leakage in north Chennai.

Immediately after the incident, V.P.Krishnamoorthy, a resident approached the NGT for a direction to oil companies to shift the pipelines running through densely populated areas in north Chennai. He also sought a direction to Union government to evolve an action plan to address and combat oil leaks and spills to mitigate the damage caused in case of any incident.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had submitted a preliminary report, prepared by experts from IIT, to the Tribunal on August 12.

The Bench, comprising its judicial member, Justice M.Chockalingam, and expert member, Prof. R. Nagendran, noted that the TNPCB has not moved forward since filing the preliminary report.

Mr.Justice Chockalingam asked the TNPCB’s counsel what steps had been taken after the preliminary report. “Pursuant to the report, they (TNPCB) have not cared to take further action against the erring oil companies. The purpose of TNPCB is defeated.”

Deprecating the TNPCB for its inaction, the Tribunal said, “Though the TNPCB has issued show cause notices to the oil companies, it remains unknown what action was taken against them since then.”

Counsel appearing for the oil companies submitted that they had plans to shift the pipelines running in those areas but it would take at least 30 months to complete the work.

Directing the secretary of Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to chalk out a plan of action to execute the work, the Tribunal said it was necessary to convene a meeting of secretaries of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Industries, Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu along with chairman and managing directors of oil companies to chalk out interim measure to address the leakage and a long-term plan for shifting the pipelines from the thickly populated north Chennai.”

The Bench directed the Union ministry complete the process within two months and to file a reply.

Meanwhile, it also directed the TNPCB to file its reply explaining the steps taken by it as suggested by an IIT expert committee at the next hearing.

  • Calls for a meeting of secretaries of ministries concerned

  • TNPCB pulled up for not taking suitable action against oil firms