The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a four-member committee and directed it to submit a report over a fire incident at agro-chemical major UPL's Jhagadia plant in Gujarat's Bharuch district in which two workers died.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel took note of a media report and issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Central Pollution Control Board, state pollution control board, UPL, Director, Industrial Safety and Health (DISH), and the district magistrate.
"We constitute a four-member joint committee comprising of the CPCB, state pollution control board, DISH and the district magistrate, Bharuch, to give a report to this tribunal. The nodal agency for coordination and compliance will be the CPCB and the Gujarat state pollution control board," the bench said.
The NGT directed the committee to visit the site within the next week and give its report about the cause of the incident in a month by email.
"Except for visit to the site at least once, the committee will be free to conduct its proceedings online. It will be free to take assistance from any other expert/organisation. The committee may suitably interact with the stakeholders and, apart from considering the present incident, also consider remedial measures for preventing such incidents in the area or by other establishments even beyond the said area.
"The committee may compile information about existence and working of onsite and offsite plans in terms of Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 Rules and conducting of mock drills and safety SOP, number of such units in the area and the carrying capacity of the area to sustain the same," the bench said.
The matter is listed for hearing on April 30.
The tribunal took cognisance of a media report dated February 23, 2021, which said two people were killed while five were missing in a fire incident at the UPL plant.
It was reported that a fire broke out at 1.35 am on February 23 at UPL's (United Phosphorus Ltd) plant in Jhagadia after a blast which claimed two lives and injured 26, and five labourers are still missing.
"The unit was shut since February 5 for a planned annual boiler inspection. The Labour and Employment Department of Gujarat government issued closure notice to the unit. The unit was directed by the Gujarat government to pay ex-gratia compensation to the next of kin of the deceased workers."
"The report also gives a version of the company that there was no chemical reaction as the plant was shut. Fire may have been caused due to fire/explosion in the solvent which could have been caused due to electric short circuit," the NGT noted.
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