Skip to main content

Andhra gas leak: Why was eco-clearance given to LG Polymers, asks ex-bureaucrat

Counterview Desk
Dr EAS Sarma, former energy secretary, Government of India, in a letter to Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has wondered, how the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board could be granted consent of establishment for the expansion of a unit owned by a South Korean company in early 2019 even though it is known to be a polluting unit.
Commenting on the LG Polymers gas leak incident on the outskirts of Vizag, leading to the death of several persons, Sarma said, “This unit being a highly polluting one and its being close to residential areas, APPCB should not have allowed it to expand its operations.”

Text:

From TV visuals, I understand that there was a serious leakage of toxic gases at the manufacturing site of LG Polymers in Venkatapuram village near Pendurthi on the outskirts of Vizag,
I gather that hundreds of people up to 3 km around the site, especially women and children, have got exposed to the gases and have fallen seriously ill. They are being evacuated to different hospitals in the city.
It is unfortunate that such a ghastly accident should take place at a time when the district administration is busy engaged in COVID operations.
There are some important aspects that I wish to bring to your notice about this accident, as follows.
LG Polymers is a South Korean company, constantly pampered by the successive governments. 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 Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (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.
In the first instance, this unit being a highly polluting one and its being close to residential areas, APPCB should not have allowed it to expand its operations. How did APPCB readily permit such an expansion?
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.
When the first phase of the lockdown ended, NOC was granted to LG Polymers, on the ground that it was an essential industry
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.
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 Corona virus spread.
Kindly direct your officers to prosecute the promoters and the senior managers of LG Polymers urgently as a deterrent measure.
Please fix responsibility on APPCB and the officers of the industrial safety wing for allowing such an industrial unit to expand operations and resume manufacturing.
How did a foreign company operating in India conduct its operations so casually and carelessly?
It appears that foreign companies like this one are moving into India as the Union Ministry of Environment, in the name of "easing business", is progressively relaxing the environment clearance procedures and encouraging polluting industries to set up shop in the country, knowing well that even if they violate the law of the land, they will get protection from the official organs of the State.
Who will pay for the adverse health impact on the workers and the people in the vicinity? Both IPC proceedings and a heavy civil penalty are called for in this case.

Comments

That's a sad news, Thanks for sharing such an important news. While handling explosive or risky situation give extra attention towards it.

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Why am I exhorting citizens for a satyagrah to force ECI to 'at least rethink' on EVM

By Sandeep Pandey*   As election fever rises and political parties get busy with campaigning, one issue which refuses to die even after elections have been declared is that of Electronic Voting Machine and the accompanying Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail.