Hindustan Petroleum restrained from operating Delhi oil depot

New Delhi, Jan 24 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Thursday restrained Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (HPCL) from operating its petroleum storage near a village in west Delhi till the company complies with safety issues.

A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice V.K. Jain, restraining HPCL from operating the depot, asked it to explain the safety measures taken by it.

HPCL was also asked to explain to the court the steps taken on compliance to safety norms on the suggestion of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority. The court posted the matter for March 20.

The court's direction came on a PIL filed by residents of Tikri Kalan village opposing the building of a petroleum depot near their homes. It would expose them to risks, the residents contended.

Advocate Indira Unninayar, appearing for villagers, told the court that the petroleum company had ignored the safety norms and people of Tikri Kalan village faced danger.

Counsel for Delhi Disaster Management Authority told the court that HPCL should have taken the safety measures to avoid endangering lives in case of any mishappening.

On the contrary, counsel for HPCL said that all safety measures have been taken by it and the depot is 500 meters away from the village.

The company said that the depot is ready and urged the court to give permission to initiate its operation.

The petition by Tikri Kalan villagers sought direction to government agencies not to allow the storage depot, alleging it would expose them to risks in case of fire, explosion or accident.

According to them, the petroleum storage tanks are located only 1,440 feet (440 metres) from their houses.

Accusing HPCL and the authorities of "merely paying lip service regarding safety", the petition said the oil company had ignored the safety steps proposed by the M.B. Lal Committee.

The Lal Committee was set up by the petroleum and natural gas ministry to probe a fire at Indian Oil's storage depot in Jaipur in October 2009.

Unninayar has said that after the Jan 5 fire at the Hazira plant of Indian Oil Corp in Gujarat, urgent steps needed to be taken immediately to shift the petroleum storage installation from the village.

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