KOCHI: District Collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla issued an order asking the police to provide full protection to the IOCL’s LPG Import Terminal at Puthuvype as protesters tried to disrupt work at the site early on Wednesday citing safety concerns.
“The police protection for the terminal is to ensure smooth functioning of the project coming up at the special economic zone,” an official statement said. Addressed to the Rural Police Chief, the order will be applicable to IOCL’s property, employees, contract workers, contractors and those directly or indirectly related to the project.
The Kerala High Court in its order on September 8 had asked the administration to provide police protection to the project. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had also given its approval for the project in April.The Collector’s order comes after protesters - under the banner of an action council - tried to disrupt the work early on Wednesday, forcing the police to arrest and remove them.
Industries Minister A C Moideen had called a meeting with the action council leaders on April 10 followed by another meeting convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on May 11 to discuss the concerns of the council.
Meanwhile, the IOCL’s statement said the terminal at Puthuvype had all necessary approvals in place. It is also designed to conform to global standards of safety, it stated.LPG will be stored in mounded vessels which are the safest worldwide. They are made of 45 mm thick boiler quality steel plates and deeply buried in sand surrounded by 1.25 metres of thickly reinforced concrete wall, it said. “The mounded vessels are inherently safe and the phenomenon of BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion) is eliminated due to the global standards of safety being introduced,” it said.
IOCL moves 100 bulk LPG tankers everyday through the narrow roads of northern Kerala from Mangaluru.
A pipeline connecting this Import Terminal to KRL (Kochi Refineries) and the LPG Bottling Plants at Udayamperoor, Palakkad, Coimbatore, Erode and Salem is also a part of this project to minimise the movement of tankers.
“The work at the Import Terminal has been abandoned since February,” DGM (LPG) Rajendra Kumar told Express. “The plant is of national importance and crucial for Kerala’s LPG needs. A local group is instigating protests by instilling fear among the local people. We have not encroached upon anyone’s property. The port has allotted land for the project.”
IOCL is determined to go ahead with the project, he said. “There is no reason for concern for the locals because of our project. If you look at IOCL’s safety track record, it’s impeccable,” he said.
In its order on April 13, the NGT stated, “IOCL should be permitted to carry on with the work and there is no prohibition to carry on as per the conditions of the Environmental Clearance.”
In a statement, Archbishop of Verapoly Joseph Kalathiparambil strongly protested against the arrest and removal of the activists, including women and children. “The protesters belonging to all religious sections were arrested and removed without any provocation,” he said.