It cannot be denied that many retail fuel outlets are functioning very close to residential areas, schools, old age homes and such other places, the Madras High Court said and wanted the government officials concerned to inspect the bunks frequently and initiate action for violation of norms.
Passing orders on a writ petition, Justice S.M. Subramaniam said the oil marketing companies fall under the definition of the term “State” and therefore, apart from pursuing their business interests, the companies should give prime importance to the right to life guaranteed to citizens under the Constitution.
“While granting permission, mechanical approach is impermissible. Retail petrol bunks are creating a lot of health issues and therefore, the mitigating factors such as surrounding atmosphere, the presence of schools, old age homes and hospitals are to be taken into consideration while granting NoC by the district authorities and also the licence by the explosives department,” he said.
The judge said that people in residential areas “are complaining in many places that such petrol bunks are allowed to function very close to the residential premises and the same is causing lot of health issues among children, old and the sick people.”
Though guidelines had been issued in this regard and the Central Pollution Control Board too had framed certain norms, the fuel outlet operators flout the norms and hence the authorities concerned must conduct periodic inspection and initiate appropriate action, the court said.
R. Gunasekaran, a senior citizen residing in Pattalam in Chennai, had filed the writ petition in 2016. The petitioner wanted a local fuel outlet, where a fire broke out, to be closed down in the interest of the people residing in the locality.
The judge directed the Indian Oil Corporation, Chennai Collector, Fire and Rescue Services department and the Greater Chennai Corporation to inspect the outlet in question, hear public grievances and then take an appropriate decision on the plea to close it down.
The process must be completed within eight weeks, he said.