The Madras High Court has opined that prima facie the Government should consider framing regulations restricting the setting up of petroleum/diesel outlets near all schools attended by small children.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar noted that the State had, in fact, framed the Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015, prohibiting setting up of petroleum/diesel outlets within 100 metres from play schools.
“However, we are of the prima facie view that in no circumstances can the interests of school going children, particularly their health, be compromised. We find no reason why there should not be similar regulations in relation to recognized schools other than play schools, which have long been in existence,” it, thereafter, observed.
The Court is hearing a Petition challenging the proposal of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to set up a petroleum/diesel retail outlet adjacent to a school.
During a recent hearing, the Bench took “judicial notice of the health hazards caused by evaporation of petroleum in and around retail petroleum/diesel outlets”.
“The harmful effects of contamination at petrol stations can be felt in buildings located within 100 metres from service stations. Published articles based on research indicate that some airborne organic compounds such as Benzene, which are said to increase the risk of cancer, have been recorded at fairly high levels in and around petrol stations,” it further observed.
The Court, however, clarified that this was a “prima facie observation” and directed maintenance of status quo in respect of the premises in question. It further clarified, “It is, however, made clear that the order of status-quo will not prevent the fourth respondent from using the premises in question for purposes other than storage/sale of petroleum/diesel, etc., if it so chooses.”
The Court has now directed the matter to be listed on 23 October, after issuing notices to IOCL and the State.