Andhra Pradesh

LG Polymers and Bhopal tragedies have a common thread, says activist

Social activist and founder of Sambhavna Trust Satinath Sarangi says that there are glaring similarities between the Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal and the LG Polymers styrene monomer leakage on May 7 that killed 12 and hospitalised over 580 persons, in Visakhapatnam.

The design of both plants was unsafe and had incorporated outdated technology, he tells The Hindu. He feels that both plants stored, used and emitted massive quantities of inherently hazardous chemicals in the midst of densely populated settlements.

According to him, the absence of disaster preparedness was manifest in both instances. Trained personnel were replaced by untrained casual workers, with the sole intent of maximising profit, he alleges.

Referring to LG Polymers continuing to function without proper environment clearances, he remarks that regular and deliberate negligence of government regulatory agencies in overseeing the operation of the plant is clear in both cases.

Factors missing in report

Satinath, who has been fighting for the Bhopal gas victims ever since the occurrence of the tragedy, feels that the NGT report misses out on some key factors.

“There is no mention of styrene oxide that is far more toxic. No mention of fetotoxic and genotoxic impact of exposure to styrene. Most importantly, the NGT report entrusts it to LGPI to carry out risk assessment study. The company has been asked to prepare a health monitoring programme at least for five years and this is like asking the fox to assess the damage to the chicken population,” he said.

The context of genotoxic impact of styrene exposure is limited for five years, whereas the period of health monitoring should be at least for 25 years, he adds.

According to Mr. Satinath, government agencies such as NEERI and ICMR in the past had consistently and deliberately downplayed the short and long-term impact of the disaster on environment and the people’s health and lives.

“NGOs with required professional knowledge and experience were kept out of Bhopal then and also in the case of LGPI in Visakhapatnam now,” he alleges.

Govt. flayed

The social activist is also critical about the government paying the compensation. “Like in Bhopal, public money is being used by the government here to provide compensation to victims, without any legal justification. Why should public pay for the crimes of the corporation?” he asks.

Mr. Satinath also points out that the police had downplayed the incident by not registering criminal cases under relevant IPC sections.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 8:46:05 PM |

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