The National Green Tribunal has fined the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) as well as cement producing company Ambuja Cements Limited in a case of leakage of toxic gases that damaged agricultural fields.
The NGT's Pune bench imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the company for failing to inform locals about toxic emissions from its factory in Junagarh district after accidents in May 2011.
The GPCB was fined Rs 1 lakh for failing to respond appropriately to the accident.
The tribunal observed that the company did not take necessary measures to ensure that the local pollution control authority was informed about the accident, nor did it constitute its own committee of experts to study the impact of the accident.
The judgment was delivered recently on a petition filed by around 40 villagers.
The NGT also found the air control measures installed in the factory to be faulty and not functional at the time of the accident.
The company, however, said it had complied with most regulations and paid compensation as agreed with the affected farmers.
Holding the pollution regulator responsible for poor post-accident response, the NGT found that the GPCB's regional manager had erred in agreeing to the mutual agreement between the company and the farmers regarding compensation. The tribunal said the compensation should have been determined by a district-level committee of experts.
The tribunal also asked the board to take appropriate action against the regional manager for "negligence in conduct" of duty and to investigate the company's compliance with air pollution control measures.
The Junagarh district collector was also directed by the tribunal to verify if all affected farmers had been duly compensated as determined by the district-level expert committee.