The National Green Tribunal has refused to grant more time to state-owned oil firms to install vapour recovery devices at all fuel stations in the National Capital Region (NCR).
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a hazard to public health which has to be safeguarded by installing recovery devices.
It said that the installation of machines was necessary in view of the adverse effects of VOC chemicals like benzene, toluene, and xylene on human health and the environment.
Vapour recovery device is an instrument to capture displaced vapours that emerge from inside a vehicle’s fuel tank when petrol or diesel is dispensed into it.
“It is undisputed that release of VOCs is a hazard to the public health which is to be safeguarded by installing VRDs/VRS, under the Precautionary Principle and Principle of Sustainable Development, no activity can be allowed to be carried out resulting in damage to the public health,” said the bench also comprising Justice S P Wangdi.
“In this view of the matter, we do not find any justification to grant a further extension of time. In fact, there may be an issue of recovering compensation for damage to the environment already caused by the release of VOC,” the bench.
The green panel said that the difficulties in procuring devices or delay in granting approvals by the authorities cannot be a ground for continuing any activity affecting public health without safety standards.
The tribunal also said that its directions will apply to the NCR where the air quality is extremely bad in the present time and asked the oil firms to comply with it within three months.
The NGT had earlier directed the companies to install vapour recovery devices at all fuel stations by October 31 but they had moved a plea seeking an extension, saying that grant of approvals for vapour recovery devices was a time-consuming process as they had to be imported.