LG Polymer, Supreme Court
LG Polymer, Supreme Court
Litigation News

Vizag Gas Leak: Supreme Court asks LG Polymers to approach tribunal over a multitude of committees conducting probe

Debayan Roy

The Supreme Court today refused to stay the order passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) by which a five-member committee was formed to assess the damage and conduct a probe into the Vizag gas leak.

Approaching the Supreme Court against the order passed by the tribunal, LG Polymers told the Court that the incident took place on May 7, and as on date, as many as seven committees by different fora have been formed to look into the case.

Committees have been directed to be formed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, the NGT, and the National Human Rights Commission, to name a few.

While the South Korean company has deposited the initial amount of Rs 50 crore that was directed to be paid before the District Magistrate of Visakhapatnam, it has objected to the number of probe committees that have been formed.

Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for LG Polymers, told the Court that the company does not intend to stall the proceedings and has discharged its obligation by depositing the initial amount ordered by the NGT. However, he asked,

"How many committees should oversee this?"

Rohatgi was briefed by Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas Managing Partner Pallavi Shroff and Partner Anuj Berry.

The Bench of Justices UU Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar, and Vineet Saran noted that the Andhra Pradesh High Court was the first to take suo motu cognizance of the leak after which it ordered for the formation of the committee.

The Court opined that the matter may be left pending and the petitioner company may approach the NGT and "impress upon the NGT that a committee formed by a court of constitutional authority has been formed."

The Court refused to stay the order on the grounds that the NGT is already seized of the matter. Thus, with the liberty given to the petitioner to approach the NGT, the Supreme Court has kept the matter pending.

On the intervening night of May 6 and May 7, styrene vapour from a chemical plant of LG Polymers India Private Ltd (LGPI), an arm of South Korea’s LG Chem, escaped from the plant. The leak that occurred near Visakhapatnam claimed several lives and led to hospitalisation of hundreds of others, while also causing environmental damage.

On May 7, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh took suo motu cognizance of the incident and directed the state to take all necessary steps to mitigate the loss that may be caused due to this incident.

The next day, 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, Visakhapatnam.

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