NGT orders Chittoor dairy firm to pay compensation for ammonia leak

The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal ordered a private dairy company in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh to pay ₹6.72 lakh as environmental compensation to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board within a period of two months, over an incident of ammonia leakage at its plant last year.

The bench said on August 20, 2020, a technician at Hatsun Agro Products Ltd, noticed ammonia gas leakage at the plant and the employees working there were directed to immediately leave the premises. However, some employees experienced some breathing trouble and uneasiness, and were shifted to different hospitals for treatment.

The bench said the joint committee report submitted by authorities noted that when a new ammonia receiver tank of 2000 Kgs capacity was erected by the industry, they failed to follow the SOPs or proper procedure and started operation. About 14 women workers out of 25 women working at the unit at that time inhaled the gas and had to be admitted for treatment.

“It is also noticed that the leakage happened due to the damage of gasket used for the filtration system. It is also mentioned in the report that the industry failed to follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and allowed the workers to operate while charging of new ammonia receiver. Once the gas leakage was noticed, they failed to evacuate the workers immediately and they also failed to install the ammonia gas sensors with alarm system so as to alert the workers during leakage,” the bench said.

The bench noted that the joint committee report specifically mentioned that the incident happened due to lack of SOP, operational negligence and lack of training to handle the emergency situation. The company did not immediately inform the authorities as required under the rules, the bench said.

The company submitted that the leakage was only 1 kg out of the total 800 kgs present in the ammonia receiver at the time of the incident and everyone was evacuated within five minutes with the leak arrested within 15 minutes.

The company had also paid a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh to 11 workers and Rs. 4 lakh to three workers based on the injury sustained and health conditions.

While taking note of this, the NGT invoked the principle of “polluter pays” while pointing out that environmental degradation caused inside a unit beyond the prescribed limit, resulting in some injury to the persons can be treated as an incident that occurred on account of environmental pollution.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 15, 2021 1:49:31 AM |

Next Story