The National Green Tribunal NGT) on Monday directed a panel from the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) to study the impact of the Tughlakabad chemical leak on the children who were affected, and submit a report.
It also constituted a panel, comprising the Environment Ministry, Central Pollution Control Board, Haryana Pollution Control Board, Department of Industrial Safety, Haryana, and Delhi Pollution Control Committee to carry out a joint inspection of Sonepat-based Crystal Crop Protection Pvt Ltd, which had imported the leaked chemical chloromethyl pyridine.
The Tribunal also made the Customs and Excise Department a party in the case and directed them to file a reply by May 29.
The gas leak had affected over 450 children from two schools in Tuhglakabad, who had complained of skin irritation, sore eyes and dizziness, and had to be taken to hospitals for immediate treatment. A bench, headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, was hearing the matter on Monday. The bench said that the AIIMS panel led by Dr YK Gupta should look into potentially serious health impacts of the leakage.
DNA had reported last week that a Centre appointed AIIMS panel, that visited the site of the chemical leak, suggested that the container depot should be shifted from Tughlakabad.
It also asked the joint inspection team to collect samples of the chemical that had leaked for analysing and submit a report on it before the next hearing.
Further, the bench said, "The environment ministry shall clearly state whether any vehicle should be permitted in the area, which is surrounded by residential population and offices and why location of the depot not be changed to any other appropriate place." It also asked the ministry to submit if such material should be allowed inside the city.
"We direct all the parties in the case to specifically state whether the leaked substance was covered under environmental laws and Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 or not," the bench added.
The NGT had taken up suo moto cognizance of the matter on May 8. It had issued notices to a host of government agencies, including environment ministry and Delhi government, and had directed them to respond as to why no emergency mechanism was not put in place following the leak and why the Tribunal should not impose compensation.
During the hearing, NGT appointed amicus curiae, advocate IG Kapila, informed the bench that between 2004 and 2008, there was a four-fold rise in the import of chemicals. He added that there was poor coordination among government agencies with regards to handling of hazardous and toxic substances.
What the panel says
A Centre-appointed AIIMS panel has suggested that the container depot be shifted from Tughlakabad.
It also asked the team to collect samples of the chemical for analyses.