The National Green Tribunal on Friday directed LG Polymers India to deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 crore for the damage caused by the gas leak in the company’s Visakhapatnam unit, PTI reported. The interim penalty comes a day after the incident claimed at least 11 lives.

The court said the interim penalty was fixed on the basis of the financial worth of the company and the extent of damage to life, public health and environment caused in the accident. The matter was taken up after the tribunal took suo motu cognisance of the accident on the basis of media reports.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel issued notices to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Central Pollution Control Board and the Union Environment Ministry, seeking their response on the incident by May 18. The green panel also constituted a five-member fact-finding committee headed by a former Andhra Pradesh High Court judge to investigate the incident and furnish a report to the tribunal.

The tribunal further directed the district magistrate of Visakhapatnam and the regional office of the State Pollution Control Board to provide logistic support to the committee during their investigation. However, the committee will be at liberty to take assistance of experts, individuals and institutions if required.

“The chairperson of CPCB may steer and facilitate the functioning of the committee using available technology,” the bench observed. “The pollution board will bear the initial cost of functioning of the committee to the extent necessary.” The court also granted the investigative panel the permission to visit the site and submit its report on the sequence of events, causes of failure and persons and authorities responsible, among other key findings by May 18.

Hundreds were hospitalised after the gas leak occurred at the LG Polymers Plant at RR Venkatapuram near Naiduthota area, and reportedly spread over a radius of about 3 km, affecting at least five villages. The incident triggered panic and several people were found unconscious on the streets as some experienced breathing problems. Some people also complained of rashes on their body and a burning sensation in their eyes.

The police in Andhra Pradesh registered a case on Thursday against LG Polymers. RR Venkatapuram Village Revenue Officer MV Subba Rao filed the complaint against the company. LG Polymers is the manufacturing unit in India of South Korean conglomerate LG Chem.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated from nearby areas as the gas leak spread. Reports of a second leak also made the rounds, but were refuted by the Andhra Pradesh Police. The company also dismissed reports of another leak as locals raised concerns after the evacuation radius was widened.