NGT Action On Vishakapatnam Gas Leak
Source –The Hindu
Syllabus – GS Paper 2 – Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.
Context – NGT, in Vishakhapatnam Gas leak disaster, directed LG Polymers to deposit Rs 50 crores
What –It is a quasi-judicial body established under National Green Tribunal Act,2010.
While deciding a case, it applies the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle.
It is not bound by the Code of Civil Procedure, nor the principles of evidence in the Indian Evidence Act, thus it is easier for petitioners to approach it.
Objective –Speedy disposal of cases related to environment and forest conservation.
Significance of NGT
- Comprises of experts who resolves the complex environmental issues
- Reduce burden on Indian courts
- Compared to courts, less expensive and less formal
- Mandate to dispose cases in 5 months
- Conflict of interest – Administered by parent ministry (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change), thus creates conflict of interest.
- Oversteps its jurisdiction as takes suo-motu cases.
- All environmental laws don’t come under its jurisdiction– For instance, matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation are not under its jurisdiction.
- Lack of institutional mechanism – There is no institutional mechanism to ensure that the environmental regulatory authorities comply with the orders of the tribunal– For Instance- landmark orders of the NGT related to Ganga water pollution, Delhi air pollution, illegal mining, and solid waste management remain unenforced.
- Issue associated with Visakhapatnam case – use of term ‘strict liability’ in its direction to LG polymers, which is outlawed and now term ‘absolute liability’ is promoted since Bhopal gas tragedy.
Strict liability Principle – companies could claim exemption from liability in case of disaster
Absolute liability Principle – Even if companies took reasonable measures to prevent disaster, in case disaster occurs company is liable for the payments.
Way Forward – NGT, as a quasi-judicial body, is an important cogwheel in the environmental governance of India. As the world is bound to experience the effects of climate change in the near future, addressing the challenges faced by NGT would be crucial in tackling the challenges of climate change for India.