The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped an interim penalty of Rs 17.31 crore on Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s Panipat refinery for violation of environmental norms.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed that the amount may be deposited by the unit with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within a month by way of interim compensation for restoration of the environment, subject to further orders.
“We find that there is adequate material on record to hold that there is violation of environmental norms by IOCL. The inspection was carried out by the credible experts of the regulatory authorities, namely, the CPCB, the HSPCB (Haryana State Pollution Control Board) under the direction of this tribunal. The response of the unit itself shows that observations in the inspection report needed action on account of which an action plan has been submitted,” the bench said.
“...the committee has assessed interim compensation to be Rs 17.31 crore. Final assessment is to be made,” it further stated.
The order came after the bench perused a report filed by a committee, comprising CPCB, HSPCB representatives and deputy commissioner, Panipat, which acknowledged enormous pollution.
“The samples from the Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) were found to be non-compliant. Ambient air quality was exceeding the norms. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were resulting in irritation to eyes and odour which was observed by the joint team during inspection. Untreated effluent was found to be discharged in the green belt areas,” the tribunal noted.
“Unit was not complying with the conditions of recycling and reusing treated water. Effluent Treatment Plant was not being operated efficiently and was not adequate. Untreated effluents were being stored in open storage lagoon without VOC recovery system. The groundwater samples were not complying with the norms,” it said.
The refinery, however, opposed the report and said it was unwarranted, since the impact of other industries in the vicinity has not been considered.