On Sunday night, Visakhapatnam Police arrested several left party leaders from their residences and booked 48 others for joining protests demanding the closure of LG Polymers Pvt. Limited. The plant was the one from which styrene gas leaked on May 7 and killed 12 persons and caused illness to several hundreds of people.
The long term effects of the gas leakage are yet to be assessed by officials. The gas leakage has also caused other damages, killing animals including cattle, dogs and rats and destroying horticulture plantations in the surrounding areas of the plant. According to initial reports, the styrene vapours have spread over a five kilometre radius around the plant where the villages of RR Venkatapuram, Gopalapatnam and other hamlets are located, on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam city. According to reports, the residents of these villages have moved out as officials began disinfecting the affected region; hundreds have been hospitalised in Visakhapatnam.
The state government is attempting to threaten leaders and victim families of the gas leakage by lodging cases against them, said J. V. Satyanarayana Murthy, state assistant secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI). “The day after the tragic incident, residents of Venkatapuram and Gopalapatnam began staging protests in front of the LG Polymers plant. The Police seem to have identified young protestors and booked them alongside several left leaders for joining the agitation,” Murthy told Newsclick.
On May 10, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) leaders Gangarao, Kumar, Venkat Reddy, Appalraju and Venkata Rao were arrested and taken to Gopalapatnam police station.
Last week, the state government has sanctioned Rs 30 crore for the families of the deceased and others affected by the gas leak. The government has also constituted a special committee to probe the incident and submit a report within a month.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that the styrene gas leakage has contaminated water bodies in the vicinity of the plant.
“Since this is the first time that styrene gas leakage has occurred, a proper scientific assessment of its impact must be studied and the victims must be given special identification cards in order to provide treatment free of cost for any sort of future illnesses,” said Murthy.
LG Polymers Violations
Left parties have alleged that LG Polymers has been operating without obtaining necessary environmental clearances from the central government authorities.
Days before the lockdown, on March 17, LG Polymers India Pvt. Ltd. had applied for permission to expand its capacity from 415 tonnes per day (TPD) to 655 TPD on its existing site of 213 acres.
On May 8, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) slapped an interim penalty of Rs 50 crore on LG Polymers India and sought responses from the Centre and state authorities.