The Andhra Pradesh High Court passed interim directions on Friday in the Vizag
gas leak case, ordering the seizure of the LG Polymers company premises. The
court directed that no one must be allowed to enter the premises, including the
directors of the company. None of the assets of the company will be allowed to
be moved without permission from the court, the order said.
While the case came up for hearing earlier on Friday, the full order copy
surfaced on Sunday on LiveLaw.
While the directors of LG Polymers have already surrendered their passports
and are currently in India, the court in its interim directions said that without the
court’s permission, their passports must not be released and they cannot be
allowed to leave India.
The respondents in the case, including LG Polymers, the state government and
police, the Union government, Visakhapatnam District Collector and the
Superintendent of King George Hospital have been asked to file the compliance
report by May 26.
While the state and central governments have filed affidavits in the HC after the
case was taken up suo motu on May 7, the court took note of multiple PILs filed
on the incident since then. The HC sought explanation regarding the failure on
LG Polymers’ part to obtain a valid Environmental Clearance (EC) from the
Ministry of Environment, the failure of the siren system of the factory, the
improper functioning of the refrigeration system in the factory, as well as the
presence of educational institutions hospitals etc in the vulnerable zone, and the
failure to train the population in vulnerable zones in evacuation procedures. The
court noted that the replies from the state and central government do not
comment on these issues.
The court has also sought a reply from the government on the net worth of LG
Polymers based on the provisions of the Companies Act, and an explanation on
the reason for transporting the styrene monomer back to South Korea before the
appointment of an inspection team and without permission of the court.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court declined to entertain a plea by LG
Polymers seeking a stay on the order passed by the National Green Tribunal
(NGT), which formed a five-member committee to assess the damage and
conduct a probe into the gas leak.
A Supreme Court bench had noted that the Andhra Pradesh High Court had
taken suo motu cognizance of the incident and formed a committee, and stated that the company may approach the NGT and inform it that a committee has been formed by a court of constitutional authority.
On the intervening night of May 6 and May 7, styrene gas leaked from a
chemical plant of LG Polymers India Private Ltd in RR Venkatapuram village on
the outskirts of Vizag. The leak claimed 12 lives and led to hospitalisation of
hundreds of others.
On May 7, the High Court took suo motu cognizance of the incident. On May 8,
the NGT also took suo motu cognizance of the incident and directed the
company to deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 crore with the District Magistrate,
The Andhra Pradesh government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs one crore to
the kin of the deceased and different compensation packages to victims
depending on the severity of their ailments.