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NGT Orders Compensation To Victims Injured From Blast In Palghar Fire Cracker Factory, Directs Review To Be Conducted For Taking Remedial Steps

Nupur Thapliyal
28 Jun 2021 11:47 AM GMT
NGT Orders Compensation To Victims Injured From Blast In Palghar Fire Cracker Factory, Directs Review To Be Conducted For Taking Remedial Steps
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Dealing with a suo moto case registered by it on the basis of a news report showing that 10 workers were injured in a blast inside a fire cracker factory in Maharashtra's Palghar district this month, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the State Government to provide compensation to the victims.NGT bench headed by its chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel has also requested the...

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Dealing with a suo moto case registered by it on the basis of a news report showing that 10 workers were injured in a blast inside a fire cracker factory in Maharashtra's Palghar district this month, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the State Government to provide compensation to the victims.

NGT bench headed by its chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel has also requested the Maharashtra State Legal Service Authority to provide legal aid to ensure that payment is made to genuine persons without undue hassle.

The Tribunal ordered thus:

"The compensation for victims has to be on the same scale i.e. Rs.15 lakhs to persons who have burns in excess of 50%, Rs.10 lakhs for persons who have burns from 25 to 50%, Rs.5 lakhs for persons who have injuries between 5 to 25%. and Rs.2 lakhs to victims who were treated as outpatients and who had minor degree of burns or other forms of simple injuries."

Furthermore, it said:

"All the nine victims whose names have been mentioned earlier will be entitled to compensation at the said scale. The compensation may be initially paid by the State of Maharashtra through the District Magistrate, Palghar within one month."

The suo moto case was initiated by the Tribunal on the basis of a report published in The Hindustan Times dated 17.06.2021, titled "Blast in firecracker unit in Maharashtra's Palghar, at least 10 injured".

The report filed by the DM, Palghar dated 24th June stated that the blast had occurred due to spark from the welding work which fell on the explosive meant for making firecrackers. It was also mentioned that eight persons were injured and were admitted to Hospital. 

Pursuing the reports filed by District Magistrate, Palgarh, Director of Industrial Safety and Health, State PCB and the CPCB, the Tribunal was of the opinion that the safety norms were not followed in the operation of the unit being in violation of Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 and Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 (The 1996 Rules).

In view of this, the Tribunal observed that "It has been found that the monitoring mechanism and safeguards for protection of life and health of the workers and other persons in the adjoining area who may be affected by such incidents were not adequate. There is need to revamp the systems to ensure immediate medical health and financial compensation on 'Restitution' principle to the affected victim."

"The current mechanism needs to be revised by the Regulatory Authorities to ensure that before such units are allowed to function, adequate safeguards exists in terms of risk coverage, health care availability in the vicinity and taking safety precautions as per laid down statutory provisions for mock drills and safety audits and such other additional safeguards as necessary based on experience of recent incidents and recommendations in the reports relating thereto." The Tribunal observed.

While ordering compensation to the victims injured in the blast, the Tribunal further directed that a review be conducted at the highest level in the State to consider remedial steps.

"Hazardous activities need to regulated in terms of quantity of material to be used in the process of hazardous activities, number of persons to be allowed to work and safeguards to be followed and monitoring compliance of such safeguards. Apart from the measures suggested by the Committee, there is also need for a study of the potential for accidental, occupational and environmental hazards from such activities in the State." The Tribunal said.

Directions of the Tribunal

- Let such study be conducted by the Director of Industrial Safety in coordination with the State PCB and CPCB within three months and report submitted to the Chief Secretary, Maharashtra for further action. The Committee may take the assistance of any other experts/individual.

- The Chief Secretary, Maharashtra may hold a meeting with all the concerned stake holders, as identified by the Committee in the table in the report quoted above, titled 'Remedial Measures to Prevent Accidents', within one month.

- After necessary deliberations, appropriate remedial measures be identified to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future. The same may be implemented through the District Magistrate or any other appropriate authority as per law, which may be overseen by the Chief Secretary.

- The State PCB may incorporate appropriate conditions in consents including prohibiting use of banned chemicals, compliance of 1989 and 1996 Rules. Further, mechanism to ensure taking of insurance policies covering risk to life and health of all workers and others likely to be affected by fire or other accidents. 

- Mechanism may provide monitoring of compliance and stopping activities of units not following laid down sops and regulations. 

- Substance of this order and regulatory measures may be published in local area in vernacular language for information of local inhabitants to facilitate information and compliance.

Title: In re : News item published in The Hindustan Timesdated 17.06.2021, titled "Blast in firecracker unit in Maharashtra's Palghar, at least 10 injured"

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