State-run HPCL has received the environmental clearance to expand its refinery at Visakhapatnam from 8.33 million tonne per annum to 15.0 MTPA. The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in its meeting held last month cleared the Rs 18,400-crore expansion plan which was earlier rejected in 2013, citing moratorium on industrial expansion in some of parts of Visakhapatnam.
"The Committee deliberated upon the issues raised during the public hearing/public consultation meeting conducted by the AP Pollution Control Board on June 26, 2015," the EAC said in the minutes of the meeting. "The issues were raised regarding CSR, accident in plant premises, impact on environment in terms of traffic pollution, wages for contract workers, local employment and water supply facilities.
"The committee noted that issues have satisfactorily been responded by the project proponent and incorporated in the final EIA-EMP report. "After detailed deliberations, the committee recommended the project for environmental clearance and stipulated... specific conditions along with other environmental conditions while considering accord of environmental clearance," it said.
HPCL's expansion plans could not move forward for the past several years due to environmental issues. Rejecting the proposal in 2013, the EAC had said that the project falls under 'critically polluted' area and as per the office memo of January 13, 2010, Ministry has imposed moratorium on further industrialisation in that particular area of Visakhapatnam. HPCL has two refineries, located in Mumbai (West coast) and Visakhapatnam (East coast), with capacities of 7.5 MMTPA and 8.3 MMTPA, respectively.