Court notice on villagers’ plea against oil depot (Lead)

May 2nd, 2012 - 8:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to Hindustan Petroleum Corp and the National Disaster Management Authority on a plea by villagers opposing the construction of a petroleum depot near their homes in west Delhi.

The petition by Tikri Kalan villagers sought direction to the government agencies, including the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, not to allow building of the storage depot, alleging that it would expose them to risk in case of fire, explosion or accident.

The division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice R.S. Endlaw issued the notice and sought response from the state-owned oil marketing company and the disaster management agencies. The case would be next heard July 18.

The villagers alleged that the petroleum company, while planning the depot, ignored the safety norms and did not maintain the necessary distance from inhabited areas.

“The petitioners’ right to live in a safe environment is being gravely threatened and seriously jeopardised by the installation of petroleum storage tanks by Hindustan Petroleum at a dangerously close distance of only 1,440-odd feet… from where they live in their village Tikri Kalan,” the villagers’ counsel said.

The residents said there already were other fire hazards close to their homes and pointed to a plastics market and bottling units for cooking gas set up by Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum Corp.

Accusing Hindustan Petroleum and the authorities of “merely paying lip service regarding safety”, the petition said that the oil company had ignored the safety steps proposed by the M.B. Lal Committee which was set up by the petroleum and natural gas ministry to probe a fire at Indian Oil’s storage depot in Rajasthan’s Jaipur city in October 2009.

Counsel Indira Unninayar, representing the villagers, said 11 people were killed and over 150 injured and estimated losses of over Rs.650 crore were suffered in the Jaipur incident.

The villagers’ petition alleged that the environment clearance granted to Hindustan Petroleum for the depot at Tikri Kalan was void as it was granted unlawfully, without conducting the mandatory green audits.

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