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NGT expresses concern over non-use of funds for victims of hazardous substance accidents

ANI | Updated: Nov 24, 2020 11:55 IST

New Delhi [India], November 24 (ANI): The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has expressed concern over non-utilisation of over Rs 800 crores meant for the victims who suffered accidents in the process of handling hazardous substances and asked the Environment Ministry to look into this aspect and take necessary action.
"We find it to be a travesty of justice that even after 29 years of the enactment of a laudable welfare legislation and in spite of deposit of huge amount meant for the needy victims, the amount remains unutilised to the detriment of the victims for whose benefit the law was enacted," a bench of the NGT, headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said.
The tribunal also recommended that there is an urgent need for bridging gaps in existence and enforcement of such law by all concerned.
"The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change being nodal Ministry may look into this aspect and take necessary action. Industrial chemical accidents lead to injury to workers and fatalities," the NGT said in its order dated November 20.
It said that there is a need to link liability risk policies to be taken by the industries under the PLI Act, 1991 with the consent conditions under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution)

Act, 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 as well as the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the Rules.
The NGT said that state pollution control boards and pollution control committee may ensure that industries required to take policies under PLI Act, 1991 are not granted with Consents under the Water and Air Acts and the Authorization under Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 till such a policy is obtained.
The bench urged the National Legal Service Authority and the State Legal Service Authorities, constituted under the Legal Service Authority Act, 1987, for assistance to the victims of injustice to access justice to look into the matter and take such action as may be found appropriate at their end.
It also acknowledged that an amount of Rs 881 crores has been deposited till March 31 with the Fund Manager, United India Insurance Company Ltd but there was no information whether any amount has been utilised.
The green tribunal was hearing an application filed by Gyan Prakash, who raised the issue relating to the non-utilisation of more than Rs 800 crore meant towards Environment Relief Fund under the Public Liabilities Insurance Act, 1991 (PLI Act, 1991) for victims of accidents in the process of handling hazardous substances.
According to the applicant, who has retired from the Central Government service, Ministry of Defence and is conversant with the issue and the fund is lying unutilised.
The tribunal noted that the purpose for which the law was enacted is not being achieved and the victims are suffering on account of ignorance and even Collectors who are required to publish information are not doing so. (ANI)