Holding that contamination of drinking water by the oil leak in North Chennai posed serious environment and health hazards to the people, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday directed the petroleum ministry to spell out the measures initiated to rectify the issue.
“We direct the Union petroleum ministry to depute an officer not below the rank of a joint secretary to come before this tribunal with all records and state the steps initiated to rectify this disastrous event,” the southern bench comprising of Judicial Member Justice P Jyothimani and Expert Member Professor R Nagendran ordered.
Appearing for the petitioner V P Krishnamoorthy, a resident of Old Washermanpet, counsel A Yogeshwaran said the pipelines of the oil companies have been laid “negligently” in the midst of thickly-populated areas.
The companies had also failed to maintain them properly, which has now led to the current situation.
Drinking water in the area had been so contaminated with oil that water had become inflammable, the lawyer contended, producing photographs before the tribunal.
While the companies, in a stakeholders meeting in April, had said they would make efforts to shift the pipeline, nothing has happened in this front.
Also, he said the guidelines put out by the petroleum ministry in 2002 had failed to address health and safety issues and hence, there was need to direct the ministry to come up with comprehensive guidelines.
While the Manali-Ennore industrial cluster has already been deemed critically polluted by the Central Pollution Control Board, the oil leak has further aggravated the situation.
While hearing the case, Justice Jyothimani observed that the Northern part of the city has reached such a state that it is not even considered as part of Chennai.
“People are living in abysmal conditions amidst such pollution,” he said in the open court.
Terming the contamination of water with oil as “dangerous,” the bench directed the petroleum ministry to spell out the measures adopted to rectify the situation in North Chennai in the next hearing which is scheduled on August 2.
The TNPCB, on the other hand, was asked to inform the Tribunal about the steps taken in consultation with the oil companies to mitigate the situation.