NHRC Takes Suo Moto Cognizance on Vizag Gas Leak Tragedy, Issues Notices

The National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) took suo moto cognizance of the incident of leakage of styrene gas in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Explicitly, of the media reports about the death of eight persons and over five thousand others falling sick due to the leak. The Gas Leak incident occurred at a chemical plant at LG Polymers Industry; at RR Venkatapuram near the Naiduthota area of the district around 3.00 AM today on 7th May 2020. The leakage of the gas affected people within a radius of about 3 kilometres. Additionally, many people complained of difficulty in breathing and rashes on their bodies.

The NHRC noticed there are no reports regarding human error or negligence but the fact that so far at least 8 innocent citizens lost their lives and thousands have fallen sick. Indeed a serious issue of violation of human rights. The right to life of the victims violated. Moreover, human lives across the country are at stake due to the transmission of Covid-19. The Commission stated, “the gruesome(horrific) tragedy has come as a bolt from the blue for the people.

Steps Taken

NHRC 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 fallen sick and relief, and rehabilitation provided by the state authorities to the affected families. In addition, NHRC issued notice 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 conducted.

As a result, the Commission considered bringing the matter to the notice of the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs. NHRC requested to examine the norms laid down under relevant provisions of the law being implemented at the particular industrial unit. Then submit a report to the Commission. Responses from all these authorities are expected within four weeks. Reportedly, an evacuation drive has reportedly been started by the police authorities and the District Collector is monitoring the situation. Additionally, the NDRF and SDRF teams also expanded in the area.