NEW DELHI: A majority of urea manufacturing plants in the country lag in safety compliance and environmental performance as per international standards, according to a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Under its Green Rating Project (GRP), the study found that despite 87% of urea plants (20 out of 23 plants) obtaining safety certifications of Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001, gas leakages and explosions remain a concern at the plants, located in the vicinity of villages and towns.
Out of the plants assessed in the study, 12 plants received directions or show cause and even closure notices — for water and air pollution or solid waste mismanagement.
The 18-month-long study rated the fertiliser sector on more than 50 parameters. The rating covered all the 28 operational plants in the country.
“57% of the plants voluntarily participated in the rating by disclosing information and by allowing GRP team to verify them on the site. The remaining plants were rated on the basis of information available in the public domain and stakeholder surveys. NFL and IFFCO, the biggest public sector companies, refused to voluntarily participate in the rating,” the study noted.
“People working in the fertilizer industries deal with highly inflammable substances, temperature variations and toxic metals and chemicals. All these can lead to accidents and even deaths of employee have happened. The old units need to start modernising and introduce handling disaster management beyond the factory territories as well,” author of the study, Chandra Bhushan told this newspaper.
The lack of proper safety measures was majorly attributed to the stressed financial conditions of the sector, the study stated adding that the poor financial conditions also had a major impact on the companies’ willingness to deliver on their corporate social responsibility (CSR).