The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has accepted the Andhra Pradesh government's action of giving Rs 1 crore each to the families of the 12 people who died due to styrene gas leak in Visakhapatnam in May 2020.
The Andhra government informed the commission that 485 people, who were hospitalized for 2-3 days were paid Rs 1 lakh each, and criminal proceedings were initiated against 12 accused.
The commission had taken suo motu cognisance of media reports about the death of several persons and over 5,000 others falling sick due to leakage of styrene gas in the district on May 7, from LG Polymers company in the port city.
"The NHRC has accepted the action taken by the concerned authorities and the ex gratia of Rs 1 crore each paid to the families of the 12 people who died in the tragic incident," the rights panel said in a statement.
The leakage of the gas had reportedly affected people within a radius of about 3 km. Many people were reported to be lying on roads while some had complained of difficulty in breathing and rashes on their bodies, it added. Along with humans, 25 animals also succumbed to the fumes.
Other than compensation for mortality, the government also paid Rs 10 lakh each to people who were put on ventilators, Rs 25,000 each to people who underwent primary treatment and others.
"The government of Andhra Pradesh has informed the Commission that 485 people were paid Rs 1 lakh each, who were hospitalised for two-three days. It has also informed that criminal proceedings were initiated against the 12 accused," the statement said.
The commission observed that the loss of lives and thousands falling sick is indeed a serious violation of human rights with the right to life being grossly violated.
"At a time when human lives across the country are at stake due to the spread of Covid-19 virus and everyone is forced to stay indoors, the gruesome tragedy has come as a bolt from the blue for the people," said a commission official.
Following the incident, the commission issued notices to the Andhra chief secretary, demanding a detailed report on the tragedy and the rescue efforts and medical treatment provided to the victims.
It also asked the director general of police to inform within four weeks about the police action and investigation.