New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) A day after three industrial disasters rocked the country amid the COVID-19 lockdown, the central pollution watchdog on Friday directed states to ensure that all units, manufacturing or storing hazardous chemicals, undertake a proper safety and hazard audit before resuming operations.
The Central Pollution Control Board in its letter to state pollution control boards (SPCB) and pollution control committees (PCC) directed that all such units should resume operations only after the COVID-19 lockdown.
'Some serious cases of chemical leakages, industrial mishaps have been reported recently. In view of this all state pollution control boards (SPCBs) and pollution control committees should ensure immediate compliance of a proper safety and hazard audit should be undertaken by all units before resuming operation.
'The SPCB/PCC shall direct all the units that manufacture, store or import hazardous chemicals to resume their operations after COVID-19 lockdown, only after they have taken adequate and necessary steps to prevent the occurrence of any chemical leakage/accident,' it said.
India witnessed not one but three industrial accidents on Thursday. The first one, a gas leak in LG Polymer Plant at R Venkatapuram village near Andhra Pradesh's Vishakhapatnam, claimed 11 lives and left at least 1,000 people sick. In a similar tragedy, seven people fell ill when they inhaled toxic gas at a paper mill factory in Chhattisgarh. Both these factories were getting ready to reopen after the lockdown.
In another incident, eight people received burn injuries in a boiler blast at a thermal power plant in Tamil Nadu.
In its letter to the states, the CPCB said that the SPCBs/PCCs shall ensure that pollution control equipment, effluent treatment plants including safety equipment and its machineries shall be kept in good operable conditions before resuming operation in present COVID-19 situation.
'They shall ensure that all units take utmost care in handling hazardous chemicals by using trained manpower. They shall closely monitor the situation and ensure that the environmental norms are not violated by any unit,' the top pollution body said.
It also directed them to ask such units to ensure safety of workers and residents in the vicinity and that any unit involved in the manufacture, store or import hazardous chemicals shall comply with the stipulated provisions of the Manufacture, Store and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 and The Chemical Accidents (Emergency, Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 without fail. PTI AG ZMN