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Why Jagan is pushing for tighter ecology by-laws in Andhra Pradesh

The state is concerned that the existing laws are oriented towards the issuance of clearance and no-objection certificates than ensuring strict compliance with the norms and environmental audit.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is quick to learn from the bitter lessons of the styrene gas leak tragedy at the LG Polymers plant near the port city of Visakhapatnam in the wee hours of May 7 that killed 12 persons. At first, it served as an object lesson in the need for scrupulous adherence to safety protocols, particularly by process industries, in resuming operations after a lockdown. The plant, a subsidiary of the South Korean LG Chem makes polystyrene that finds wide use in the foodservice industry as rigid trays disposable cups, plates and bowls.

The gas leak put the spotlight on the lack of safety precautions and an apparent failure of the plant managers to ensure the safety protocols. Now, as an official probe is underway to fix responsibility, the state is readying landmark legislation titled the Andhra Pradesh Environment Improvement Bill to revamp the compliance mechanism laid down for industries. It envisages the introduction of the third-party audit system and installing real-time pollution monitoring equipment in industrial units. Besides this, the proposed legislation provides for a monetary penalty regime for the violation of pollution norms and Environment Damage Compensation (EDC).

Why Jagan is pushing for tighter ecology by-laws in Andhra Pradesh
The gas leak put the spotlight on the lack of safety precautions and an apparent failure to ensure safety protocols. (Photo: PTI)

The state is concerned that the existing laws – the Environment Protection Act (EPA), and the Water and Air Acts – are more oriented towards issuance of clearance and no-objection certificates than having sufficient provisions to ensure strict compliance to the norms and environmental audit. The proposed bill is intended to ameliorate the shortcomings when comes it to compliance with environmental standards by all industries. The new law will be applicable to all industrial activities governed by the EPA and Water and Air Acts.

The industries must submit reports on compliance with the conditions and audited annual environmental statements. All the red and orange category industries will have to set up Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations and Continuous Effluent Quality Monitoring Systems and submit the data to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board control centres. For violations causing damage to human property and ecology, industries will have to pay the EDC. Penalties paid to the EDC will be credited to a Green Fund which will be utilised for the protection, improvement and management of the environment.

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