A file photo of smoke rising from the LG Polymers plant in Vishakhapatnam.

A file photo of smoke rising from the LG Polymers plant in Vishakhapatnam.

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has decided to shut down operations at the LG Polymers plant in Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, where styrene gas leaked, killing at least 12 and injuring 4,000 patients on May 7. , while a senior official of the Ministry said that the plant will be closed in accordance with Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act which allows the Center to close the industrial units that violate the law.

After the disaster, documents obtained through the Right to Information Act (RTI) show that the MoEFCC has convened a National Crisis Group with members from several ministries and sought answers from the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) and government officials are investigating the causes of the accident and corrective measures.

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The Ministry of Environment also recognized the company’s early history. The chemical factory has been operating since 1997 without proper permits and applied for approval, in 2018, under the rules made by the MoEFCC itself. These rules allow business projects that violate environmental laws to be referred to a special panel of experts called the ‘Violations Committee’ of the MoEFCC and – if they meet certain requirements and make changes appropriate – to be appropriate actions. LG Polymers has appealed to this committee and its case is under review.

On May 18, according to reports obtained by environmental activist Vikrant Tongad and viewed by
The Hindu , Geeta Menon, Joint Secretary, MoEFCC, issued two drafts. Another, who sought new information from various agencies such as the Central Pollution Control Board, APPCB, the Directorate General of Industries, and the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization regarding the actions taken whether or not the company has complied with the MoEFCC’s rules – known as the Manufacture, Handling and Importation of Hazardous Chemicals (MSIHC) Rules, 1989 – which specify how of handling hazardous chemicals and industry.

The second plan is to close the sector in place of its crimes and the environmental and public damage it has caused.
The Hindu It is not possible to enter the full text of this detail but it is said by Ms. Menon: “The Company’s case is being investigated by the EAC Violation in the company. In view of the scale of the accident and the clear responsibility of the company, directions have been issued to the company for closure under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act for approval.

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Secretary CK Mishra will take the decision in this regard. He retired on May 31 and left the decision to “his successor”, the records of the meeting show. Then the matter came to the table of RP Gupta, the incumbent.

However, on June 18, a Cabinet official noted that “discussions” were held with the Secretary (Mr. Gupta) and the final decision was to seek only a status report on compliance with the MSIHC. The alleged reason is that the APPCB has withdrawn the “permission to operate” and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which imposed a ₹50 crore penalty, is looking into the company’s process to looking to resume operations.

Also Read | The National Green Tribunal held LG Polymers responsible for the loss of life

“In view of the above, it is found that the desired objectives by setting the proposed guidelines under Section 5 are stated by the actions initiated by APPCB and Hon’ble NGT. Therefore, the Minister can only continue the process of finding the status of implementation of the MSIHC Rules,” according to the file-noting.

“It is clear that the Ministry of Environment, although it has the necessary powers, does not want to involve itself in the closure of the industry, although there is no doubt that the evidence for the creation of regulations, as shown of these stories.” said Mr. Tongad
The Hindu .

On May 19, the MoEFCC’s ‘Violations Committee’ postponed a decision on the company’s application on the grounds that after the disaster, it will await the final decisions of the NGT and the expert committee examining the impact of industrial accidents. .

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