Visakhapatnam gas leak: Former IAS officer EAS Sarma asks how LG Polymers was given nod to operate

The former finance secretary pointed out that with the unit being a highly polluting one and close to residential areas, the state PCB should not have allowed it to expand operations.
Ex-finance secretary EAS Sarma
Ex-finance secretary EAS Sarma

VISAKHAPATNAM: Raising serious questions over the gas leak near Visakhapatnam from LG Polymers, former finance secretary EAS Sarma has demanded that stringent action be taken against the company and officials of the AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB) for giving it permission to operate with impunity.

In a letter to Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, he said, "LG Polymers is a South Korean company, constantly pampered by successive governments. It stands on government ceiling surplus land valuing hundreds of crores of rupees and the company had dragged the government into litigation, when the government tried to take back the land.."

"Despite this, how did APPCB grant Consent for Establishment (CFE) and Consent for Operation (CFO) around the beginning of 2019 for the unit's expansion? APPCB did not apparently take clearance either from the State government or from the Union Ministry of Environment," the letter added.

He pointed out that the unit being a highly polluting one and close to residential areas, APPCB should not have allowed it to expand operations. "This is not the first industrial accident to take place on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam. Around 30 to 40 accidents took place in the past resulting in several workers and civilians losing their lives, with no promoter prosecuted and no officer of the State govt punished," he recalled, adding that it implied collusion between the officers and the promoters of the polluting industries.

When the first phase of the recent lockdown ended, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) was apparently granted to LG Polymers, ostensibly on the ground that it was an "essential" industry. "By no stretch of imagination, a plastics manufacturing unit like this can be called 'essential'. Someone senior in the
government should be held responsible for this lapse," he demanded.

He further asked the Chief Minister to prosecute the promoters and senior managers of LG Polymers urgently as a deterrent measure besides taking action against APPCB and the officers of the industrial safety wing for allowing such an industrial unit to expand operations and resume manufacturing.

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