Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding responsibility of the state to check hazardous industrial activities operating without requisite safeguards, 23/03/2021

  • 23/03/2021

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of In Re: News item published in the “Indian Express” dated 04.11.2020 titled “Ahmedabad: Nine killed as godown collapses after factory blast” dated 23/03/2021. The matter related to a blast at a chemical boiler factory at Pirana-Piplaj road, Ahemdabd on November 4, 2020 in which 13 people lost their lives and nine were injured.

"It is matter of serious concern that we have recently dealt with around 16 tragedies of deaths and injuries in the course of industrial activities conducted in violation of safety protocols and required the authorities to undertake review of compliance of safety protocols in such activities", the NGT in its order said. Most of the accidents were the result of non-compliance of laid down safety norms under the 1989 Rules and the Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996.

The Tribunal stressed that the establishments handling hazardous chemicals must follow the laid down norms, overseen by the statutory regulators. The Chief Secretaries of all the states/UTs must evolve a mechanism to ensure that the companies dealing with hazardous substances must forthwith pay compensation for deaths and injuries to the victims. Safety audits of all establishments having potential for such accidents must be ensured.

The court directed that the victims are entitled to compensation for which primary liability is of the operator of the godown and the state of Gujarat - the state was liable due to failure of its authorities in performing their responsibility of checking hazardous activities being conducted without requisite safeguards. The state of Gujarat needs to take remedial measures to ensure that such incidents do not occur and hold accountable persons responsible for failure of the oversight.

A joint committee comprising Director, Industrial Safety and Health (DISH), Gujarat, and Gujarat Pollution Control Board in coordination with respective municipal corporations and District Magistrates must conduct survey of the entire state to ascertain if any other such activities are going on, and if so to take remedial action by way of closing such illegal activities, the NGT order, March 23, 2021 said.