Mangaluru: Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim held a meeting of MRPL officials, Pollution Control Board, SEZ officials and locals from Jokatte area at the DC office here, on March 26.
About four such meetings were held previously and as per a similar meeting held onFebruary 22 the locals had placed certain grievances in front of the Deputy Commissioner. Spreading of Petroleum Coal (PetCo) dust, smell of stored sulphur in the locality, sound pollution, water pollution and health hazards were the main concerns aired by the locals. It was decided that by February 27, no sulphur would be stored openly, but a few lapses were observed on part of MRPL as the storage silos were not covered all the time.
Ibrahim said, “After the Ministry of Environment and Forests has given clearance to the company, we can not do anything about it, but all we have is a legal route to voice our concerns to the higher authority if we think that there are serious lapses due to negligence by the company.”
Environment Officer Rajashekhar Puranik said that if at all any new storage tanks were to be built; then they should be built somewhere away from human habitation. “The sound pollution was also found to be above the permissible limits and we have asked the company to bring the sound output below 40 decibels. Whereas as far as the issue of health hazard is concerned, it has to be monitored by the District Health Officer. But the medical reports of the workers of MRPL suggest that there is no case of skin allergies, but some have developed a restricted lung function,” he said.
He said that the green corridor and buffer zone has to be created whenever an industry comes up, but no governmental acts had ever set a limit on the fixed boundary for a green corridor or a buffer zone as such. “Oil Industry Safety Directorate norms also have not mentioned a fixed boundary for this,” he added.
The locals however said that the green belt was just for namesake and was mentioned only for the sake of technical excuses. “MRPL should construct a green corridor on a landscape of about 80 acres out of the total 250 acres according to the norms that fix the area of a green corridor for an industry at 33% of the total area,” said Puranik.
Ibrahim asked MRPL to acquire and implement the land meant for the green corridor and to form a monitoring committee which would monitor the implementation of the project and submit the milestone reports to the administration. “A further agreement is required on the buffer zone and we expect the proposal of MRPL in this regard and it is not mandatory that the locals have to accept the proposal of MRPL, but they can suggest any improvements to it. This shall be discussed in the next meeting with an official from MRPL, SEZ, Jokatte Panchayat and Pollution Control Board,” Ibrahim said.
Minister of State for Fisheries, Youth Empowerment and Sports K Abhayachandra Jain, ZP CEO Sreevidya, MRPL MD H Kumar, Director of Refinery, M Venkatesh and others were also present.