LG Polymer & Others : A lesson to learn


- Rajesh Deoliya

The community needs Industry and Industry needs Community. The relation is so interwoven that it is difficult to disintegrate. But it is not an equal relationship. While the concerns of industries are almost fix, which are related to demand- supply and compliance to regulatory framework. The community, being heterogeneous, has many concerns like employment, business opportunity, local development and individual growth in the same pace as that of industry. When industry comes in an area there is support from community which slowly evaporates.  Sometimes vested interests of mischievous sections of society and sometimes the fault of industry itself, create a crisis situation where industry plunge deep into a struggle to survive, perishing local economy, generating disrespect for industry in the society.In such situation any ignorance of statutory compliance, resulting into violation and community problems result  in troublesome situation sometimes leading to closure of factory. 

Bhopal Gas Tragedy in year 1984 has alerted the industries and regulators to think for industrial safety, formulation of "Standard Operating Procedures", Zero Accident Norms etc. Rules and Regulations were streamlined and put into a systematic filter process monitored by well-equipped environmental labs, strict pollution control boards, expert appraisal committees, qualified environmental consultants, keeping periodic environmental compliance reports and daily pollution data in the public domain are few of them. But even then tragedies  and violations  occur.  In the case of Union Carbide Ltd, Bhopal local journalists time to time raised issues about the small but recurring incidences of hazardous gas leakage from plant due to poor plant maintenance ultimately leading to the biggest industrial disaster of world. The effect of this disaster is still persisting in the victim's families. Result- the factory is closed, ruined, company closed its Indian operations. The investment has gone, economy of city suffered which otherwise could have become a big growth center due to its central location in India. A running plant due to negligence became cause of industrial disaster, affected community, economy and environment.  

The Tuticorin Copper Smelter plant expansion, a green field project of Sesa Sterlite limited for production of copper anode, in Tamil Nadu has received strong resistance from nearby villagers even when the project is situated in the notified area i.e State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd  (SIPCOT)  an Industrial Area of Government of Tamil Nadu. The local community claims that the existing project is releasing hazardous gases into the atmosphere making them ill of cancer and respiratory disorders and the effluents are disturbing the soils and water of nearby villages. It is also blamed that company is avoiding public hearing for new project on the ground of  Office Memorandum of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, New Delhi No- J-11013/36/2014-IA-I dated 10,December,2014 which states that "Public Consultation is not required for projects located in the notified area". The public outburst has resulted in police firing, killing about 13 protestors in May,2018. Result - the plant is closed, due to which the import of copper is increased in the country and company is incurring loss from the project on an issues of spreading pollution and public consultation, which could have been resolved amicably. It is to note that the existing plant also got relief from supreme court by order dated 02.04.2013 with a fine of Rs 100 crore for operating existing unit without renewal of "Consents" by TNPCB for a fairly long period.    

 The matter of LG Polymer,Visakhapatnam(AP) is quite different from above. The plant, set up in year 1965, uses styrene as a raw material to make it's engineering plastic products, which is highly flammable and releases a poisonous gas when burnt. The local people were complaining frequently about the leakage of gases into the atmosphere but these complaints were ignored by company and authorities.  Further, to add problem, the plant officials in year 2017 in an affidavit stated that they are running expansion project without environmental clearance since long time. Now the industry is imposed with a fine of Rs 50 Cr   by National Green Tribunal. The matter is also listed in AP Highcourt and an inquiry is in process. The matter here, is of a violation coupled with proven damage to environment compromising with the health of human and animals. Such type of situation could have been averted, if a dialogue with the authorities and experts is happening regularly. Likelihood is that company may be allowed to work after getting fresh environmental clearance and depositing certain financial penalties as a cost for degradation of environment. But till than operations may be suspended, which will a loss to company and local economy.

 In the competitive market, only "Good Organizations" will survive. The above cases lead to the conclusion that "Ignorance" is the key factor in generation of crisis.  An active dialogue with local community and other stakeholders is required. It has to be done with the help of well-defined and structured corporate social responsibility team and assistance of NGOs working locally for social development because many times these NGOs, in the absence of proper information spread wrong information which is dangerous to the projects and bring the community against it. Their involvement will form a bridge between stakeholders and help industries to mitigate the environment and community related problems. Post COVID-19, health related issues are at central stage.  It will be a good policy to adopt "open mic" approach so that any non-compliance related to environment and pollution can be mitigated within safe limit without affecting business of organization. In today's technology driven approach no problem is unsolved.



 Readers are requested to share their thoughts and post in the comment box of this blog with their names to improve the content for the benefit of society. 


The views expressed here are of writer only and does not belong to any organization, associated with.


Public consern and business development consultant with safety keeping a good role to escape this type of hazard's.
P K Dwivedi said…
Thought provoking blog. Sustainable development with no place for ignorance is the only way forward.

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