The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued notice to the Centre, LG Polymers India, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and others after 11 people lost their lives due to gas leakage at a chemical plant in Vizag. The Tribunal has formed a 5-member committee which will be headed by a former judge of Andhra Pradesh High Court to probe the incident.
The NGT also directed LG Polymers India Pvt to submit Rs 50 crore an interim amount for damage to life. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has asked the five-member Committee comprising Justice B Seshasayana Reddy to submit a report before May 18.
"Having regard to the prima facie material regarding the extent of damage to life, public health and environment, we direct LG Polymers India Pvt Limited to forthwith deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 crore, with the District Magistrate, Vishakhapatnam, which will abide by further orders of this Tribunal. The amount is being fixed having regard to the financial worth of the company and the extent of the damage caused," the bench said.
Gas leaked from a chemical plant in Visakhapatnam in the early hours of Thursday and quickly spread to villages in a five-kilometre radius, killing at least 11 people and impacting about 1,000, many collapsing to the ground as they tried to escape the toxic vapours.
Among the dead were two children, aged six and nine, a first-year medical student and two people who fell into a well while fleeing the vapours from the plant, getting ready to reopen after the lockdown.
Taking stock of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had spoken to officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). "I pray for everyone's safety and well-being in Visakhapatnam," Modi said in a tweet.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy has ordered a probe into the matter, state Director General of Police D Gautam Sawang said. "How the gas leaked and why the neutraliser at the plant did not prove effective in containing the leak will all be investigated. Styrene, though, is not a poisonous gas and can be fatal only if inhaled in excess quantity," Sawang said
(With PTI inputs)