Ministry dithers on decision to close LG Polymers

A fi le photo of LG Polymers plant in Vishakhapatnam.AP

A fi le photo of LG Polymers plant in Vishakhapatnam.AP  

The second draft was ostensibly to shut the unit down in lieu of its violations and the damage it had caused. The Hindu could not access the full text of this draft but a note by Ms. Menon says: “The Company’s case is at present being considered by the Violation EAC in the ministry. In view of the magnitude of the accident and the clear responsibility of the company, directions to the company for closure under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act is placed alongside for approval.”

A decision on the matter was to be taken by the Secretary C.K. Mishra. He was due to retire on May 31 and left the decision to “his successor”, records of the meeting show. The matter then landed on the table of R.P. Gupta, the incumbent.

However, on June 18, another officer of the Ministry noted that the matter was “discussed” with the Secretary (Mr. Gupta) and the final decision was to only seek a status report on the compliance with the MSIHC Rules. The reason proferred was that the APPCB had withdrawn the unit’s “consent to operate” and that the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which had imposed a Rs. 50 crore fine, was overseeing the process.

“In view of the above, it is noted that the objectives desired through the set of proposed directions under Section 5 are already addressed by the actions initiated by APPCB and Hon’ble NGT. Therefore, Ministry may proceed only with the aspect of seeking status of compliance of MSIHC Rules,” according to the file-notings.

“It’s clear that the Environment Ministry, even though it has the necessary powers, doesn’t want to involve itself in shutting down the company,” Mr. Tongad told The Hindu .

On May 19, the MoEFCC-appointed ‘Violations Committee’ had deferred a decision on the company’s application on the grounds it would wait for final decisions by the NGT and other expert committees monitoring the aftermath of the industrial disaster.

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