The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped a penalty on four companies, comprising HPCL and BPCL, for contributing "substantially" to air pollution and creating "gas chamber" like conditions in Mahul, Ambapada and Chembur areas of Mumbai.
The NGT on Friday asked the companies to pay a fine of Rs 286 crore over five years to revive air quality in the area. "It cannot be denied that the four companies contribute substantially and predominantly to the VOCs in Mahul and Ambapada villages," the order said.
The tribunal directed HPCL to pay Rs 76.5 crore, BPCL Rs 7.5 crore, AEGIS Rs 142 crore, and SLCL Rs 0.2 crore.
Prolonged exposure to hazardous air pollutants, even at miniscule level, may weaken the lungs and other organs. Conditions prevailing in the area are sometimes likened to that of a "gas chamber", the tribunal said.
The NGT ruling came in response to a petition filed by residents of Mahul and Ambapada villages in 2014 against a unit set up just metres away from their homes. The green panel said that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has accordingly assessed the values of Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions based upon the data provided to them by the companies.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A. K. Goel said a ten-member joint committee comprising two senior nominees from CPCB, a representative of the Environment Ministry, state pollution control board, District Magistrate, NEERI, TISS, Mumbai, IIT Mumbai, KEM Hospital, Mumbai and a nominee of Health Secretary Maharashtra, may prepare an action plan for restoration measures.(With agency inputs)