The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) India on Friday accepted the action taken by the authorities concerned and the ex-gratia of Rs 1 crore paid to the families of the 12 people who died in the tragic styrene gas leak incident in LG plant in Visakhapatnam.
"The Andhra Pradesh government has informed the Commission that 485 people were paid Rs 1 lakh each who were hospitalized for two-three days. It has also informed that criminal proceedings were initiated against the 12 accused," read a press statement from NHRC.
The Commission had taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the death of eight persons and over five thousand others falling sick due to leakage of styrene gas in Vizag district of Andhra Pradesh on May 7, 2020.
The leakage of the gas had reportedly affected people within a radius of about three kilometers. Many people were reported lying on roads while some complained of difficulty in breathing and rashes on their bodies.
On the basis of the early media reports then, the Commission had observed that "though prima-facie, as of now, there are no reports regarding human error or negligence but the fact that so far at least 8 innocent citizens have lost their lives and thousands have fallen sick, is indeed a serious issue of violation of human rights. The right to life of the victims has been grossly violated. At a time when the human lives across the country are at stake due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus and everyone is forced to stay indoors, the gruesome tragedy has come as a bolt from the blue for the people."
The Commission had issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter including the status of the rescue operation, the medical treatment provided to the people who fallen sick and relief and rehabilitation provided by the state authorities to the affected families.
"A notice had also been issued to the Director-General of Police, Andhra Pradesh to inform within four weeks about registration of FIRs in the matter and status of the investigation being conducted. A notice was also sent to the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs, through its Secretary, to examine whether the norms laid down under relevant provisions of the law are being implemented at the particular industrial unit," it said.
According to NHRC, pursuant to the directions of the Commission, the Director-General of Police, Andhra Pradesh, submitted a detailed report on relief measures including evacuation.
"With regard to the status investigation of the case registered by the police, it has been submitted that 437 witnesses were examined including the statement of 16 officials, security and technical persons who are working in LG Polymers Company," it added.
During the further course of the investigation, based on the evidence, witnesses and other documentary and experts' opinions, 12 accused were arrested and produced before the AMM Court, Visakhapatnam. The Court granted them 15 days remand to judicial custody to all the 12 accused persons.
The NHRC has observed that having considered the requisite reports received from the concerned authorities and also the fact and circumstances of the case, any further proposition from the end of this Commission is not required.
It has further observed that "it was an unfortunate incident in which 12 people lost their lives due to gas leak, however, the State Government has compensated the bereaved families by paying ex gratia to the tune of Rs 1 crore each to the next of kin of the deceased, adequate monetary compensation to more than 2000 victims, who fell sick and hospitalized besides taking legal action against the accused persons. The State Government has also deposited an amount of Rs 50 crores with the Collector and District Magistrate, Vishakhapatnam as per the orders of NGT, New Delhi for the restoration of the environment and payment of interim compensation to victims of the gas leak."