CHENNAI: Holding that no petrol outlets can be allowed near schools, the first bench of the Madras High Court has ordered the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to maintain status quo in the matter of locating an outlet on Sundarapuram Nachiappan Road in Madukkarai in Coimbatore.
The bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, which gave the direction on Thursday while passing interim orders on a PIL from B Moorthy of Madukkarai Market, also directed the State to frame guidelines for locating petrol bunks near schools. “Prima facie, the government should consider framing regulations restricting the setting up of petroleum/diesel outlets near all schools,” the bench said.
“We cannot but take judicial notice of the health hazards caused by evaporation of petroleum in and around retail petroleum/diesel outlets. The harmful effects of contamination at petrol stations can be felt in buildings located within 100 meters from service stations. ,” bench said.
The bench, however, made it clear that the order of status quo will not prevent the IOC from using the premises for purposes other than storage/sale of petroleum/diesel, etc..
According to the petitioner, the site, where the retail outlet is proposed to be set up, is adjacent to a recognized school where about 700 students study. The site is located about 25 meters away.
The bench noted that in this case, there are no rules restricting the setting up of petroleum/ diesel outlets near schools. It appears that pursuant to the orders of this court, the State government framed the code of regulations in respect of play schools only, in 2015, which provides that no petroleum/diesel outlet be set up within 100 meters from play schools.
“However we are of the prima facie view that in no circumstances can the interests of school going children, particularly their health, be compromised. We find no reason why there should not be similar regulations in relation to recognized schools other than play schools, which have long been in existence. We are, therefore, of the view that status quo as directed above should be maintained until further orders of this court,” the bench said.
After ordering three weeks notice to the parties, the matter was adjourned till October 23.
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