During the year 2020 the whole world is suffering from the virus called COVID-19 and because of this pandemic it outbreaks and lock-down misery. The whole nation was engaged in fighting corona viral concerns, India saw a horrific gas leak in LG polymer production in Visakhapatnam on 7th may 2020.
This incident took place in Andhra Pradesh from a chemical plant. This gas leak spread rapidly within 1.5km and many people were die and some of them get serious disease its about 13 people who die because of this gas. A harmful deadly styrene monomer vapour leaked out of a tank in LG Polymers which could be owned by based LG Chemicals. Because of the covid 19 outbreak within the country the plant wasn't operating for nearly 40 days and therefore the temperature difference at the underside and top portion led to the formation of vapour which lead to the gas leak. Fortunately, the styrene monomer is kind of heavy in weight and may not spread in a region of over 1.5 km of radius therefore an oversized area was saved. The police came into force and an oversized number of individuals, say, 2500 were evacuated from the place and shifted to camps and other safe places. All the patient who get injured were rapidly taken to the hospitals and they provided the adequate medication and treatment.
As this incident took place it could rise and plenty of people are being treated at the Vizag Community Health Centre. The incident makes us hearten back to a landmark case i.e. Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984 in this case many people lost their lives and some of them disabled.. The case influenced the country’s legislative machinery, which had no tough law on compensation. Because the incident happened at an American company called Union Carbide Corporation, the families of victims and social activists filed a spread of lawsuits within the US. Eventually, India’s government, deriving authority from the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Processing Claims Act of 1985, instituted a case within the US against Union Carbide India Ltd. (hereinafter “UCIL”) as patriae parents (the country’s parent). The Indian government was unable to uphold its lawsuit and also the Court ruled on the petition requesting that the Indian courts pass judgment.
How this accident took place?
This accident happened due to the deadly styrene monomer vapour that leaked out of a vessel within the city of Vizag. 13 people were found dead and 1000's were hospitalised and therefore the place remained within the zone for quite 36 hours. As per the initial investigation it's found that it happened thanks to the unavailability of workers and non operational plant due the covid 19 outbreak and a unfinished business was marked. Andhra Pradesh government has also donated Rs 1 Crore for the people who lost their life and for those that were injured within the incident making a complete of 30 crores. It is said within the investigation that the corporate also did not have the environment clearance issued by the Ministry of Environment Forest and natural process (MoEFCC). The LG Chemicals have expanded its operations at LG Polymers plant five times between 2006 and 2018 without clearance as in step with the EIA notification (amendment) of 2006 under the Environment and Protection Act of 1986, LG chemicals falls into a petrochemical Industry category A and is at risk of get a clearance from MoEFCC whenever they decide to expand their plant or bring a change to the products being manufactured after November 2006.
As we know that in oleum gas leak case and in Bhopal tragedy case the need was advocated for the Environment court 186th law Commission Report, it recommended setting up environment courts with both original and appellate jurisdiction relating to environmental legislation. The passage of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 was passed to provide for the creation of the National Green Court.
Safeguards regarding these accident or a disasters?
Bhopal Gas Leak (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985, which supplies the Central Government powers to secure claims arising from or linked to the Bhopal gas tragedy. Those claims are forbidden promptly and fairly under the provisions of this Act.
Post-Bhopal gas tragedy, clear guidelines for the storage of hazardous chemicals at plants are issued. Following the Bhopal disaster, several legislations were enacted, beginning with the Environmental Protection Act, 1986, to the general public insurance Act, 1991.
The Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989, styrene are interpret as a ‘hazardous and Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 rules it says that “Set discharge and safety standards-pollution-restricting source standards; manufactured products product standards and ambient air and water standards-to govern the standard of life and environmental protection.”
As per hazardous waste rules, 1989 says that any waste which can be by reason of any of its physical, toxic, harmgul chemicals, explosive which is likely to cause any danger to health or environment whether single or with others it will be liable. Factories Amendment Act, 1987: this act says that provision to watch the situation of dangerous units; health of staff and residents nearby; and regulations for emergency plans at the positioning and steps to manage disasters.” Public insurance Act, 1991: “Imposes a no-fault responsibility on the manufacturer of the hazardous substance and allows the owner to compensate accident victims irrespective of any negligence or default. to the current end, the owner must get rid of an contract covering potential responsibility for any incident.”
Chemical Accidents Rules, 1996 it say that the Centre is required to make a central crisis group for chemical accident management; establish a rapid response mechanism called a crisis alert system. Each State must establish a crisis group and report on its work.”
The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997, says that it can hear appeals from concerning the restriction of areas within which industries, processes or operational or groups of industries, operations or processes don't seem to be meted out or under other protections under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.
National Green Tribunal, 2010, provides for the creation of a National Green Tribunal for the successful and swift disposal of cases regarding the protection of the environment and forest conservation.
In this case what will be the liability under the indian law?
First, strict liability means a person who kept hazardous substance or anything which can cause harm to the environment or surrounding that person will be strictly held liable and have to pay the damages.
But in this liability it can take defence as act of god, natural disasters, statutory authority, consent of plaintiff and many more.
In this liability there is one famous case which is related to strict liability i.e. Ryland vs fletcher some principle were laid down in this case:
If a person has and manufacture any substance or chemical plant upon his land which commit injuries or harmful to the surrounding, then person who brings thee hazardous thing is answerable if he/she is not negligent.
In case of this liability person shall be responsible if he is not negligent
Second, absolute liability means the liability arises due to the hazardous activity by an enterprises. There is no defences we can not use any defence for absolute liability.
Damages must be paid according to the nature of activity and enterprise.
As per public liability insurance act, 1991 it was framed and enforced of absolute libality in which it ignore all the defences to escape liability and the public which get affected from this activites.
Since public liability insurance act is at no fault and LG polymers also took insurance under this act and follow all the given gudielines under ministry of environment forest and climate change but it considers to be a strict liability.
Vizag gas leak is as the Bhopal gas tragedy case:
The NGT has made Strict Liability applicable. As an initial fee, NGT awarded Rs.50 Crore. It’s also established an expert committee for the general review and submission of the report. While the damages can increase, the applying of outmoded Strict Liability is met with anxieties in legal parlance. The matter argues that if the accident met the necessities of Absolute Liability, why the NGT invoked an outdated statute. Strict responsibility has several additional chasms, like the one surrounding monetary reimbursement. While Strict Liability concerns damages, Absolute Liability mandates amends which suggests a monetary reparation way more than the damage done. Thus, Absolute Liability acts as a dissuasion. The Supreme Court also directed that UCIL has to pay rs.750 crores within the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the very best in Indian history. In Klaus Mittelbachert v. East India Hotels Ltd., a German co-pilot who was amputated and died while swimming in an ill-maintained athletic facility at a Delhi hotel was granted indemnification by the court. The rule is followed by M.P tribunal in Jagdish v. Naresh, where the court applied M.C Mehta and granted restitution whether or not it admitted negligence.
in this vizag gas leak case, the supreme court has stayed on an NGT order which was of 1st june, which directed LG polymers company to pay rs. 50 cr. For the damages caused to enviorment and payment of interim compensation to victims of the gas leak. On June 1, the tribunal also directed the framing of a “restoration plan”, final quantification of the compensation to be paid to victims and action against officials chargeable for allowing the corporate to function without statutory clearances. All of those directions were stayed by the Supreme Court. The polymers company had appealed to the court and challenge the jurisdiction of tribunal to require up case suomotu and to pay compensation, when the case was already pending within the state state Supreme Court. The company had also questioned the court order to seal the Visakhapatnam factory and premises. The corporate argued the sealing was unconstitutional. The court had also sought information on how the toxic styrene monomer was allowed to be transported to South Korea despite the registration of against the law in reference to the May 7 leak, the appointment of an enquiry team and also the requirement of a magisterial enquiry. The high court had even asked the Centre and also the Andhra government to produce the online worth of LG Polymers Pvt. Ltd. as per the businesses Act.
The centre may arrange to act as a representative of the victims especially within the LG polymers gas tragedy as worn out the Bhopal gas tragedy, like Union Carbide, which is owned by the foreign firm, as compensation and prosecution logistics are tougher for foreign companies. The concept of Absolute liability which, additionally to public insurance, is additionally implemented into the regulatory system would mean that a considerable amount of cash would should be paid to the victims. Exemplary damage beyond and beyond costs may occur when LG polymers violate the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and also the Manufacture, Import, storage of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989. LG Polymers controversy is not any stranger. A reactor blast shook the encompassing villages within the year 2000, fueling their anxiety. People ran away, and there have been no lives lost. One such attempt is that the Cartagena Protocol to carry operators in charge of damage from the forthcoming threat furthermore as from real threats arising from the utilization of latest technology. In 2017, villagers made representation through Rajya Sabha MP Subbarami Reddy, after repeated complaints to the province Pollution instrument panel did not provoke any reaction. PCB arrived and give LG polymers a clean chit that coming because it has a time when environmental laws and labor which are being diluted for convenience of doing business, the Vizag disaster should teach us that more democracy, more public participation, and more security for workers are the sole thanks to make businesses truant. Bhopal should are the actuation behind this counter-globalization, and Vizag is shameful in building collective guilt. If we fail to be told our lessons from the never-ending misery of Bhopal.
Name: Rahul Jindal
Course: BALLB (hons)
College: GD Goenka University, gurugram