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Sunday, 26 July 2020

Deposit Rs25 cr for pollution, NGT tells Panipat refinery

Mukesh Tandon

Tribune News Service

Panipat, July 25

The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Indian Oil Corporation Limited's (IOCL) Panipat refinery to deposit Rs 25 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within a month for polluting air and water.

Earlier, the IOCL had deposited Rs 17.31 crore as interim environment compensation (EC) last year.

The tribunal also directed the CPCB, HSPCB and District Magistrate, Panipat, to make a plan for the restoration of the environment and public health within three months.

Satpal Singh, Sarpanch, Gram Panchayat, Singhpura-Sithna, had filed a complaint with the NGT in 2018 alleging that the IOCL Panipat refinery had caused air and water pollution around Bohli, Dadlana and Sithana village of the district.

He alleged that air pollution caused by the refinery had caused diseases to a large number of people in the adjoining villages.

"The refinery is also polluting water bodies by discharging effluents into the green belts of the villages and forest," the complainant alleged.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel had constituted a joint committee comprising representatives of the CPCB, HSPCB and Deputy Commissioner, Panipat, and sought an action-taken report.

Following the interim report filed by the HSPCB on May 9 last year, the NGT ordered the IOCL refinery to deposit interim environment compensation of Rs 17.31 crore and also directed to assess the total environmental damage.

After that, the joint committee assessed the environmental damage and recommended total environmental compensation of Rs 659.49 crore of which the refinery had deposited Rs 17.31 crore with the CPCB last year.

The committee also recommended some remedial measures to the refinery to restore the environment.

The NGT in its order on November 26 last year had constituted another joint committee of CPCB, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and HSPCB to verify the latest status of compliance by the refinery.

The joint committee filed its report to the NGT on April 23 in which it stated that the IOCL refinery has not implemented remedial actions for restoration of the environment which were recommended by the joint committee earlier.

The Principal Bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on Friday — during a hearing through video conferencing — directed the IOCL refinery to take initiatives on a day-to-day basis and comply with all the observations of the joint committee positively within six months.

"The issue of final liability for compensation will be decided on the next date in the light of progress in the performance by IOCL," the order reads. The next hearing is fixed for February 17, 2021.

Paying the penalty

Total environmental compensation calculated by joint committee: Rs 659.49 crore 2019: IOCL deposits Rs17.31 crore

July 24, 2020: NGT orders IOCL to deposit Rs25 crore

Feb 17, 2021: Final amount of compensation to be decided

from The Tribune

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