The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped an interim penalty of Rs 17.31 crore on Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s Panipat refinery for violation of environmental norms.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed that the amount may be deposited by the unit within a month with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) by way of interim compensation for restoration of the environment, subject to further orders.
“We find that there is adequate material on record to hold that there is a violation of environmental norms by IOCL. The inspection was carried out by the credible experts of the regulatory authorities, namely, the CPCB, the HSPCB (Haryana State Pollution Control Board) under the direction of this tribunal. The response of the unit itself shows that observations in the inspection report needed action on account of which an action plan has been submitted,” the bench said.
“We are, thus, unable to accept the submission that no compensation may be required to be paid or that no further action be taken. Even if pollution is contributed by others, respondent no. 1 (Panipat refinery) cannot avoid responsibility. The only question is the quantum. The committee has assessed interim compensation to be Rs 17.31 crore. The final assessment is to be made,” it added.
The order came after perusing a report filed by a committee, comprising CPCB, HSPCB representatives and deputy commissioner, Panipat, which acknowledged enormous pollution.
“The samples from the Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) were found to be non-compliant. Ambient air quality was exceeding the norms. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were resulting in irritation to eyes and odour which was observed by the joint team during the inspection. Untreated effluent was found to be discharged in the green belt areas,” the tribunal noted.
“Unit was not complying with the conditions of recycling and reusing treated water. Effluent Treatment Plant was not being operated efficiently and was not adequate. Untreated effluents were being stored in open storage lagoon without VOC recovery system. The groundwater samples were not complying with the norms,” it said.
The refinery, however, opposed the report and said it is unwarranted as the impact of other industries in the vicinity has not been considered and it did not get a notice from the committee.
Proceedings in the matter were initiated on receipt of a letter by Satpal Singh, sarpanch, gram panchayat Singhpura Sithna, Panipat, alleging IOCL’s Panipat refinery is creating air and water pollution around Bohli, Dadlana and Sithana villages.
The letter also alleged that air pollution by the refinery has created diseases affecting a large number of people and the analyzers to measure carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and carbon dioxide, etc. have been non-functional since 2010, due to which such values are not being recorded.
“The refinery is also polluting the water by discharging effluents in the forest, affecting the quality of water in the area,” the plea said.Share This