New Delhi, February 3: Observing frequent accidents resulting in deaths and injuries in chemical factories, National Green Tribunal has directed Chief Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories (UT) to evolve a mechanism to ensure that the companies dealing with hazardous substance must forthwith pay compensation for deaths and injuries to the victims at least as per Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 wherever applicable or the principle of restitution laid down in this regard.
A National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also directed to conduct safety audits of all establishments having potential for such accidents and said that all states and UT may also ensure availability of healthcare facilities in the vicinity of such establishments, The New Indian Express reported.
“In view of frequent accidents resulting in deaths and injuries, the Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs may evolve a mechanism to ensure that the companies dealing with hazardous substance must forthwith pay compensation for deaths and injuries to the victims at least as per Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 wherever applicable or the principle of restitution laid down in Sarla Verma (supra), National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680 to the victims either directly or through the District Magistrate,” the NGT said.
The NGT further stated that the pollution control board and District Magistrates (DMs) must assess the cost of restoration of the environment which should be recovered from the company and spent on restoration.
“The States and UTs in accordance with 1989 and 1996 Rules need to step up vigilance, surveillance and monitoring to avert such accidents. Preparedness to meet such eventualities be ensured. Regular mock drills may be ensured in respect of onsite and offsite emergency plans, ” The NGT said.
The NGT was hearing proceedings in a matter that arose out of an incident dated June 3, 2020, in Dahej in District Bharuch of Gujarat. According to the applicants, a massive blast took place in a chemical factory run by the Company Yashyashvi Rasayan Pvt. Ltd. on account of a fire in the storage tank of the factory. The factory was manufacturing several hazardous chemicals.
As per the report furnished to this Tribunal, by the Committee of experts, the number of deaths in the incident is 11, victims with grievous injuries are found to be 22, with simple injuries 28 and with minor injuries 43.
Damage has also been found in the air and water in the vicinity. The court also upheld the compensation assessed by the Committee for the damage to the environment and in respect of the dead.
The court has directed the Unit to take all safety measures in terms of the recommendations of the Committee which may be overseen by the statutory regulators.