No fuel pumps within 50 m of schools: child rights panel

‘PCB circular in place against pumps near schools, hospitals’

No permission should be given to build petrol pumps within 50-m radial distance of schools in the State, the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has said.

Acting on a petition that alleged construction of a petrol pump within 50 m of Government Upper Primary School, Thaikattussery, commission member K. Nazeer said as per a circular issued by the State Pollution Control Board, petrol pumps should not be allowed within 50-m radial distance of schools and hospitals. If at all a petrol pump had to be set up within 50-m owing to some exigency, local bodies should ensure that safety guidelines stipulated by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation were being strictly followed. However, on no account should the pump be located within 30-m radial distance from the school. The PCB circular, the commission said, had been issued on the directions of the National Green Tribunal.

Ensure compliance

The Local Self-Government Secretary, Panchayat Director, and Municipal Director should issue orders that the local bodies had to ensure compliance with these safety guidelines before giving permission for setting up petrol pumps, the commission said.

The grama panchayat secretary’s report to the commission said the panchayat committee had unanimously decided against giving permit to the petrol pump after receiving complaints from the school management committee, the headmistress, and the petitioner. A petition had also been filed in the High Court of Kerala against the construction of the pump.

No pollution problems

The PCB environmental engineer’s report to the panel said the complaint against the petrol pump had been investigated and no pollution problems were detected to warrant any apprehensions. The pump had received no-objection certificate from the Public Works Department and the Fire and Rescue Services. Moreover, the PCB had issued a circular in August 2020 that if a no-objection certificate had been received from any department other than the PCB before the circular date, a relaxation should be allowed in the distance clause in the circular and the PCB’s nod given. Accordingly, permission was given.

The commission said that as the panchayat had not given sanction for the pump to function and a case had been filed in the High Court in connection with the construction of the pump, it would not issue a direction on the case. However, as it gave particular importance to student safety, it was imperative to issue an order to ensure their safety, the commission said.

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