Ennore fertilizer unit can restart operations after due approvals: NGT

Published - May 22, 2024 01:08 am IST - Chennai

The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has allowed conditional resumption of operations at the Coromandel International Limited, a fertilizer manufacturing unit in Ennore, provided that it strictly followed the recommendations of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). It also ordered the TNPCB to closely monitor the company’s activities.

A leak from the ammonia pipeline of the unit in the late hours last year caused locals of Periyakuppam, Chinnakuppam and the neighbouring villages to flee their houses. As many as 54 persons were hospitalised with complaints of vomiting, dizziness, eye irritation, and breathlessness. A day after the incident, the TNPCB issued a notice to the unit directing the suspension of ammonia offshore pipeline activity and ammonia transfer. It said that the operations could be resumed only after obtaining approvals from the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS), the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board, and the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH). The Bench, comprising Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member Satyagopal Korlapati, had ordered the TNPCB to form a technical committee to ascertain the cause of the leak.

After inspections, the committee noted negligence on the part of Coromandel and made recommendations for the unit to adhere to, such as replacing the existing offshore pipeline with a new pipeline with state-of-the-art monitoring, automatic control and accident prevention system. The Tamil Nadu government had also directed the unit to pay environmental compensation of ₹5.92 crore.

Pronouncing the verdict on Tuesday, the Bench directed the firm to follow the TNPCB’s directions and the recommendations of the committee, and obtain necessary No Objection Certificates from the IRS, the DISH, and the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board.

The DISH and the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board were also directed to inspect the unit before issuing approvals to restart ammonia operations. “The TNPCB should use the compensation of ₹5.92 crore towards environmental mitigation in Ennore industrial area,” the Bench said.

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