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NHRC accepts action taken in Vizag Styrene gas leak tragedy in AP

Our Bureau Hyderanad | Updated on February 19, 2021

file photo   -  REUTERS

Criminal proceedings against 12 accused

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) India has accepted the action taken by the authorities concerned and the ex-gratia of ₹ 1 crore paid to the families of the 12 people who died in the tragic styrene gas leak incident in LG Polymers plant in Visakhapatnam.

The Andhra Pradesh Government has informed the Commission that 485 people were also paid ₹ 1 lakh each who were hospitalised for 2-3 days. It has also informed that criminal proceedings were initiated against the 12 accused.

The Commission had taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the death of eight persons and over 5,000 others falling sick due to leakage of styrene gas in Vizag district on May 7, 2020.

The leakage of the gas had reportedly affected people within a radius of about 3 kms. Many people were reported lying on roads while some complained of difficulty in breathing and rashes on their bodies.

Notice to the State Govt

On the basis of the early media reports then, the Commission had observed that “though prima-facie, as of now, there are no reports regarding human error or negligence but the fact that so far at least 8 innocent citizens have lost their lives and thousands have fallen sick, is indeed a serious issue of violation of human rights. Right to life of the victims has been grossly violated. At a time when the human lives across the country are at stake due to spread of Covid-19 virus and everyone is forced to stay indoors, the gruesome tragedy has come as bolt from the blue for the people.”

Accordingly, the Commission had issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh, calling for a detailed report in the matter including status of the rescue operation, medical treatment provided to the people fallen sick and relief and rehabilitation provided by the state authorities to the affected families. A notice had also been issued to the Director General of Police, Andhra Pradesh to inform within four weeks about registration of FIRs in the matter and status of the investigation being conducted. A notice was also sent to the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs, through its Secretary, to examine whether the norms laid down under relevant provisions of the law are being implemented at the particular industrial unit.

Pursuant to the directions of the Commission, the Director General of Police, Andhra Pradesh, submitted a detailed report on relief measures including evacuation.

After the incident, the Administration evacuated nearly 20,000 people from 17,000 houses of RRV Puram, Nandamuri Nagar, Kamparapalem, Padmanabha Nagar, SC/BC Colony, Meghadripeta Colony and kept them at 23 rehabilitation centres maintained by GVMC as well as Simhachalam Devasthanam authoritiies.

With regard to the status investigation of the case registered by the police, it has been submitted that 437 witnesses were examined including the statement of 16 officials, security and technical persons who are working in LG Polymers Company. During further course of investigation, based on the evidences, witnesses and other documentary/experts opinions, 12 accused were arrested and produced before the AMM Court, Visakhapatnam. The Court granted them 15 days remand to judicial custody to all the 12 accused persons. The Passports of CEO & Directors/Senior Employees of L.G. Polymers, R.R. Venkatapuram were also reported to be kept by the police in its custody. The material objects seized at the scene of offence also sent to Director, FSL, Mangalagiri, A.P. for chemical analysis and opinion.

Compensations

The NHRC has observed that having considered the requisite reports received from the authorities concerned and also the fact and circumstances of the case, any further proposition from end of this Commission is not required.

It has further observed that “it was an unfortunate incident in which 12 people lost their lives due to gas leak, however, the State Government has compensated the bereaved families by paying ex gratia to the tune of ₹1 crore each to the next of kin of the deceased, adequate monetary compensation to more than 2,000 victims, who fell sick and hospitalised, besides taking legal action against the accused persons. The State Government has also deposited an amount of ₹50 crore with the Collector & District Magistrate, Vishakhapatnam as per the orders of NGT, New Delhi for the restoration of environment and payment of interim compensation to victims of the gas leak.”

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Published on February 19, 2021
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