Oil companies warned against failing to deposit fines over anti-pollution devices
The National Green Tribunal Tuesday rapped the public sector oil companies for not depositing Rs 1 crore fine with the CPCB for their failure to install anti-pollution vapour recovery systems at fuel stations and warned that their directors would be sent to jail in case of non-compliance or delay. The fine was slapped on public sector oil firms Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited.
Vapour recovery device is an instrument to capture displaced vapours that emerge from inside a vehicle's fuel tank when petrol or diesel is dispensed into it. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel took exception that despite its September 28, 2018 direction, the order was yet to be compiled.
It directed that cost imposed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has to be deposited within one week. "This is a matter of environment and you are playing with the lives of people. So we will also play with your lives. No harm in staying behind bars. The order was passed in September last year still you have not complied.
"Why do we even have this tribunal if orders are to be flouted by government officers itself?" the bench observed. The NGT directed the oil companies to deposit the damages and file a compliance affidavit within two weeks.
"File something which is genuine and not fraudulent. For every delay someone is responsible so either deduct it from salaries or director's assets. "If compliance is done by the next date then no jail. Two weeks time is granted. Either comply or ask directors to appear and be ready to go to jail," it said.
The matter is posted for next hearing on February 15. The tribunal had earlier directed the oil companies -- Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd -- to install Stage-I and Stage-II vapour recovery devices by October 31 and asked the CPCB and the Ministry of Petroleum to issue directions and ensure that necessary steps are taken by all the concerned.
The tribunal was hearing the plea by advocate Aditya N Prasad and Delhi resident Vallari Sheel, who contended that petroleum products at fuel stations contribute significantly to air pollution, and sought directions to stop the release of volatile compounds during transfer of petroleum products. The plea referred to a study conducted at various petrol pumps of Delhi which has found that the level of toxic fumes containing pollutants known as volatile organic compounds (benzene, toluene and xylene) was several thousand times higher than the permissible limits.
(With inputs from agencies.)