Andhra Firm With 18.7K Tonne Ammonium Nitrate Served Notice
The company has blamed the lockdown for the explosive material piling up.
The Andhra Pradesh Police on Friday, 11 September issued a show-cause notice to Sravan Shipping Services Private Limited for flouting safety norms as the firm was reportedly storing 18,700 metric ton of ammonium nitrate, the explosive that was behind the explosion in Beirut.
After the Beirut explosion, the Customs department was tasked with verifying and confirming that any hazardous and explosive material lying in warehouses and ports in the country meets all safety and fire standards. At Visakhapatnam port, where most of India’s ammonium nitrate import comes in, 18,700 metric ton of ammonium nitrate was found, stored at the premises of Sravan Shipping.
When asked about the show-cause notice, the company maintained that all its papers are in order and will be submitted to the department shortly.
G Sambasiva Rao, the Managing Director of Sravan Shipping, told TNM, “All our papers are in order and we will submit our documents to all relevant departments.”
When asked about the reported ammonium nitrate that was found stored at the godown owned by him, Rao said, “It was stockpiled due to COVID-19 related lockdown. There was no movement of trucks.”.
However, the Centre had declared transport services for the carriage of goods by water and services connected with movement or storage of goods in ports as essential services and had asked ports to ensure cargo operations were not hampered.
An official from the Andhra Pradesh Fire Department told TNM that the company had not renewed its No Objection Certificate since 2013, and the department is also at fault for not following up on the issue. The importers of the ammonium nitrate had earlier been asked to collect the import and clear the godowns after an inspection by the district administration officials. The officials at the time had given a clean chit to the firm.
The Visakhapatnam police issued the notice on Friday after inspecting the company’s premises. It was issued for alleged violation of safety provisions, not maintaining records and flouting licencing conditions while building the warehouses within their compound.
The police have sought a reply from the firm within a span of seven days. The company has been warned that its No Objection Certificate (NoC) will be cancelled if the firm’s reply is not found satisfactory, reported Times of India.
The AP police have also written to the Controller of Explosives, Nagpur, and the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) over the alleged violations. It is to be noted that in August when this was found, the PCB issued a show-cause notice to the company.
The Times of India reported that the police have found that a stack of ammonium nitrate which was bagged was not found to be maintained properly, as well as found violations in licences and more.
The company was also found constructing the warehouses without the mandated distance between structures. The inspection team found differences in the actual site layout plan of the warehousing facility to the ones submitted to the authorities for obtaining an NOC to store ammonium nitrate.
(This article has been republished in arrangement with The News Minute)
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