Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding violation of environmental norms by HPCL refinery in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, 20/10/2022

Judgment of the National Green Tribunal (Southern Zone, Chennai) in the matter of Visakha Pawan Praja Karmika Sangam Vs Union of India & Others dated 20/10/2022.

The matter related to Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) refinery in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh causing smoke, odour nuisance and water pollution for several years.

On May 25, 2021 there was a fire accident at the crude distillation unit III of the refinery. A report filed by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) along with the detailed report from the enquiry committee submitted to the Collector and the District Magistrate. The cause of the outbreak was found to be the hole that developed on the "6 SR pipeline carrying bitumen due to corrosion or erosion".

The report also observed lapses of HPCL during inspection. The court also noted that APPCB had issued directions to the unit under Water Act, 1974 and Air Act, 1981 for non-compliances from December 14, 2011 till March 19, 2020.

The joint committee constituted to look into the matter observed that "there were repeated violations by the unit from 2011 onwards and decided to consider the number of violations from 2011 and recommended levying environmental compensation at Rs.8,35,20,000.

The NGT directed HPCL to deposit environmental compensation assessed at Rs.8,35,20,000 forthwith. HPCL was further directed to deposit a further sum of Rs.10,00,00,000 (rupees ten crores) for their "wilful negligence being a PSU which can be spent on restoration of environment and public health in the district of Vizag," the bench of Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana said, October 20, 2022.