The National Green Tribunal has slapped fines on a company --- Ambuja Cement --- and pollution regulator --- Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) --- in a case of leakage of toxic gases affecting agricultural fields.
In a judgment, the Pune bench of the tribunal imposed a fine of Rs. five lakh on the company for failing to inform the locals about release of toxic emissions from its factory in Junagarh district after accidents in May 2011.
The leakage had resulted in subsequent damage to agriculture land in the nearby areas affecting earnings of the locals.
The company did not take necessary expedient measures to ensure that the local pollution control authority was informed about the accident; neither did they constitute their own committee of experts in a time- bound manner to study the impact of the accident, the tribunal observed in its judgment delivered recently.
The tribunal hearing a petition filed by 40-odd villagers also found the air control measures installed in the factory to be faulty and not working at the time of the accident.
The tribunal held the regulator responsible for poor post accident response and found that the regional manager of GPCB had erred in agreeing to the mutual agreement between the company and the agriculturists about the compensation to be paid in the farmers. It said the compensation should be have been determined by the district level committee of experts.
Imposing a fine of Rs. one lakh on the pollution board for failing to initiate quick response, the tribunal asked the board to take appropriate action against the regional manager for “negligence in conduct” of duty and investigate to find whether the company has complied with air pollution control measures.
As regards to compensation, the tribunal directed the district collector of Junagarh to verify whether all the agriculturists in the said impact zone of 3 km had been duly compensated as per the formula derived by the Expert Committee.