VIJAYAWADA: An Environmental compensation of Rs 8,35,20,000 should be claimed from the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) for non-compliance of environmental statutes, a joint committee has recommended in its report. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) constituted the committee to study HPCL’s compliance with the recommendations by the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc), and the status of the green belt developed by the refinery.
The committee observed repeated violations by the unit since 2011 and arrived at Rs 8.35 crore, calculating Rs 100 as compensation per day for 3,480 days since that year. Following a petition filed by Visakha Pawan Praja Karmika Sangham that complained of environmental violations by HPCL, a joint committee was set up to look into the issue. After it was felt that the panel had ignored certain issues, it was directed on September 17 last year to revisit HPCL and examine the issues pertaining to green belt, whether it had implemented the guidelines provided by the IISc in 2016.
The NGT directed the committee to initiate cumulative action by calculating the compensation based on the number of days the violations have been going on. The tribunal also noted that the violations have been going on for a long time, and that the Pollution Control Board had sent notices highlighting the flouting of norms.Accordingly, the committee revisited HPCL Visakh Refinery and prepared a revised report. It said that the total area of the refinery after expansion is 860 acres and the total green belt developed inside the unit is 112.5 acres.
The unit had informed the APPCB that being a brown-field project, there was no adequate space available within the refinery for additional green belt development, hence it took up Green Visakha Programme under which it planted 4,500 saplings till 2015. Further as per APPCB directions, it planted 2 lakh saplings in the city since 2016 and the same were handed over to the forest department.
The committee found that the unit had partially complied with the IISc recommendations. It responded to complaints of odour and inspected the process area for leakages. It complied with recommendations regarding the use of respiratory masks, but only partially complied with recommendations regarding public education regarding odour management and carried only some of the general awareness programmes.
The committee observed repeated violations by the unit since 2011 and arrived at Rs 8.35 crore, calculating Rs 100 as compensation per day for 3,480 days since that year.