Andhra Pradesh

Panel defers decision on green pass to LG Polymers

EAC to wait for suo moto action by NGT, cases being heard in High Court and NHRC on gas leak accident

A committee of experts constituted by the Environment Ministry has deferred its decision on providing environmental clearance to LG Polymers India, Andhra Pradesh.

Also read: HC orders seizure of LG Polymers plant

Styrene gas stored in the company’s industrial plant at Venkatapuram village in Visakhapatnam leaked on May 7, killing at least 11 persons and hospitalising over 500. The plant had been shut due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Unconnected to the gas leak, the company had already been classified as an environmental violator. It had been operating the plant without an appropriate licence from the Centre and was doing so only under approval by the State environmental body. In 2017, the Environment Ministry created a provision for such companies, who were “violators”, to apply for permission for a chance at properly legalising their operations.

This would involve paying a fine and satisfying the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) that they had established processes to run the plant complying with environment laws.

Also read: Ryots hit as gas leak damages crop, halts cultivation

Permission sought

In its application of 2017, the company applied for permission to manufacture polystyrene and increase capacity from 415 tonnes per day (TPD) to 655 TPD, as well as a nod to obtain environment clearance.

The EAC, however, said it would not be considering the “expansion” in view of the gas leak and would only restrict itself to considering the company’s violation of operating without a valid licence.

Moreover, the company also needed a licence because it had changed the “product mix”, the EAC added.

Also read: Vizag gas leak: LG Polymers moves Supreme Court against Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board

All of these, however, were on a back-burner due to the gas leak as the EAC would now wait for the outcome of the “suo moto action initiated by the National Green Tribunal, the cases being heard in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, National Human Rights Commission and the committees constituted by the various authorities to investigate into the accident and post-accident scenario,” according to the minutes of the meeting made public on Wednesday.

There are also investigations underway by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur on the whether the gas leak had caused any long-term contamination.

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 7:52:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/panel-defers-decision-on-green-pass-to-lg-polymers/article31690205.ece

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