By Satyanarayana Bolisetty*
Visakhapatnam: I got the message at 4.45 am about this serious leakage of Styrene Gas (vapour) at the site of LG Polymers in Visakhapatnam. Around 400-500 people upto 3km radius of the plant, especially women, children and animals were exposed to this Styrene gas. They had either fallen seriously ill or died. Animals were left unattended and people were being evacuated to different hospitals in the city by National Disaster Response Force, who were already present there to attend Covid-19 victims in case of emergency.
We are fortunate that such a ghastly accident couldn’t damage much as the district administration is on standby for COVID operations. Some important aspects of this accident that came to my notice are:
- The LG Polymers land is in dispute with regards to government ceiling of surplus land. When the government tried to take back the land, the company dragged the government into litigation. Despite this, the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board gave Consent for Establishment (CFE) and Consent for Operation (CFO) based on an affidavit given by LG Polymers on 10th May 2019 for the unit’s expansion. The APPCB did not apparently take clearance either from the State government or from the Union Ministry of Environment.
- This unit is a highly polluting one and close to residential areas, therefore, APPCB should not have allowed any expansion. But APPCB permitted such an expansion is a serious and punishable lapse.
- This is not the first accident to take place in Vizag, around 40 accidents happened in the past resulting in several casualties. To my knowledge no industrialist or the officer has been prosecuted and punished by any government.
- This is not an essential industry to be allowed to open during lockdown and to issue a No Objection Certificate (NOC). But that was given to LG Polymers.
- Government of AP should fix responsibility on APPCB officers on this lapse of industrial safety by allowing such an industrial unit to expand operations and resume manufacturing.
- MNCs generally follow stringent norms with regards to its operations and procedures.
- The AP High court took suomotu cognizance of this incident while the State police did not even file any case on LG Polymers.
- *The writer is a Vishakhapatnam-based renowned environment conservationist and General Secretary, Janasena Party.The published views are his own. [the_ad_placement id=”sidebar-feed”]