The Centre is feeling the need to amend the rules on chemical accidents in the wake of incidents in the “recent past”.
The Centre is feeling the need to amend the rules on chemical accidents in the wake of incidents in the “recent past”. The existing rules — on manufacture, storage and import of hazardous chemicals and on chemical accidents (emergency planning, preparedness and response) were enacted in 1984 and 1996 respectively. The second one was promulgated 12 years after one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, the Bhopal gas tragedy, had claimed several thousands of lives. The government, sources claimed, is considering revisiting the laws for better regulation and to bring them in line with present requirements. The environment ministry last week issued a notice to seek comments on the same.
“A number of accidents in chemical industry installations in the recent past have brought into focus the need to review the missing gaps in the aforesaid rules so that effective enforcement of regulations in chemical industry is ensured. There is an urgent need for their amendment in line with the existing needs for minimisation/control of chemical (industrial) accidents,” said the MoEFCC’s order. The ministry has requested all stakeholders to give their inputs and comments on areas of amendments required in the rules.
Since Bhopal gas tragedy, India has seen scores of chemical accidents. According to national disaster management authority estimates, in the last decade, 130 significant accidents have been reported that claimed 259 lives and injured over 560.
In the most recent incident in May 2016, four persons were killed while about 85 were injured in a major blast at a chemical plant in Dombivali in Maharashtra, just 40 km from Mumbai. At least 25 people were hospitalised after ammonia gas leak in a milk processing plant near Gulawati in Bulandshahr district in April.