In the latest development in the hearing of the Visakhapatnam gas leak case, the Andhra Pradesh High Court has sought an explanation from the state government as to why was styrene monomer permitted to be transported to South Korea, about a week after the incident. The Jagan Mohan Reddy state government had begun the process of transporting 13,000 tonnes of styrene gas in two consignments of 8,000 tonnes and 5,000 tonnes to South Korea after the gas leak incident in Vizag on May 7.
The High Court asked, “When no court permission was granted for the same and when no investigation/ inspection team was appointed and no magisterial inquiry was held, despite there being a requirement after the registration of a crime?”
The judges’ panel chaired by Chief Justice JK Maheshwari and Justice Lalitha Kanneganti gave a slew of directions to the Central and the State governments, including an order to seize the premises of LG Polymers chemical plant at Visakhapatnam, from where leakage of poisonous styrene chemical gas occurred in the early hours of May 7. In addition to that, over a 5-km radius of its vicinity, affecting around 2,000 locals of five villages and leaving a dozen persons dead and hundreds injured.
LG Polymers is a South Korean company that has long received protection from successive governments in India. Even without any EC, this plant, situated in close proximity to residential and populated areas, was granted approvals to start and expand by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB).