Call to prosecute toxic gas leak company in India

Call to prosecute toxic gas leak company in India

Visakhapatnam: Former bureaucrat and environmental activist E.A.S. Sarma has demanded the prosecution of the promoters and the senior managers of the LG Polymers for toxic gas leakage from its plant here, which has killed eight people and affected hundreds.

The former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer wrote a letter to Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy urging him to fix responsibility on Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) and the officers of the industrial safety wing for allowing such an industrial unit to expand operations and resume manufacturing.

He said when the first phase of the recent lockdown ended, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) was apparently granted to LG Polymers, ostensibly on the ground that it was an “essential” industry. “By no stretch of imagination, a plastics manufacturing unit like this can be called essential. Someone senior in the government should be held responsible for this lapse.”
“It stands on government ceiling surplus land valuing hundreds of crores of rupees and the company had dragged the government into litigation, when the government tried to take back the land. Despite this, how did the APPCB grant Consent for Establishment (CFE) and Consent for Operation (CFO) around the beginning of 2019 for the unit’s expansion? APPCB did not apparently take clearance either from the state government or from the Union Ministry of Environment,” said Sarma, a former secretary to Government of India.

He said the APPCB should not have allowed the expansion as this unit was highly polluting one and was close to residential areas.

“This is not the first industrial accident to take place in the outskirts of Visakhapatnam. Around 30 to 40 accidents took place in the past resulting in several workers and civilians losing their lives, with no promoter prosecuted and no officer of the state government punished. It implies collusion between the officers and the promoters of the polluting industries. I would not be surprised if the promoters have had support from the political leaders of all hues,” wrote Sarma.

“Pollution in principle reduces the body’s immunity to diseases like corona. It is ironic that both the Centre and the State should jointly encourage activities such as liquor sales and industrial pollution that weaken human immunity at a time when the country is facing an unprecedented crisis due to coronavirus spread,” he added.

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