Negligence Still Continues – Study The Vizag Gas Leak in Visakhapatnam (2020) from Prospective of Bhopal Gas Tragedy and Oleum gas leak landmark Judgement

It’s Not Just about Vizag And Bhopal – It’s all about people life and environment.

The Night of Bhopal gas Disaster and Years after That

At the time, it was called the worst industrial accident in history.

On December 3, 1984, approximately 45 ton of the damaging gas methyl isocyanate escaped from an insecticide plant that become owned through the Indian subsidiary of the American organization Union Carbide Corporation(UCC). The gas drifted over the densely populated neighbourhoods across the plant, killing lots of humans at once and developing a panic as tens of lots of others tried to escape Bhopal. The very last dying toll become anticipated to be among 15,000 and 20,000. Some 1/2 of one million survivors suffered respiration issues, eye infection or blindness, and different maladies due to publicity to the poisonous gas; many had been provided repayment of some hundred dollars. Investigations later hooked up that substandard running and protection processes on the understaffed plant had brought about the catastrophe. In 1998 the previous manufacturing unit taken over by the state of Madhya Pradesh.

More than 400 tons of industrial waste is still present there in starting of 21st century. In 2004 the Supreme court of India ordered the state to supply clean drinking water to the residents of Bhopal because of groundwater contamination.


Environmental Effects

The surroundings affects of the catastrophe are over more than 2,000 animals had been killed through the gas that night time and maximum of them are cattle that humans trusted for meals . The heavy gas become absorbed into nearby rivers, making the water undrinkable and poisoning the Fish. Many Crops had been additionally deemed risky for human consumption, and the complete area into disaster because of food shortage. This gas leak have durable effect on surroundings there nevertheless today.


Health Effects

The affected area was expanded to include 700,000 citizens. In the year 2006 affidavit file by government stated that leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.

A maximum of clinical research or studies are performed. The study varies, but the different reports support each other.Studied and reported long-term health effects are:

  • Eyes: Chronic conjunctivitis, scars on cornea, corneal opacities, early cataracts
  • Respiratory tracts: Obstructive and restrictive disease, pulmonary fibrosis, aggravation of tuberculosis and chronic bronchitis
  • Neurological system: Impairment of memory, finer motor skills, numbness, etc.
  • Psychological problems: Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Children’s health: Peri- and neonatal death rates increased. Failure to grow and also intellectual impairment, etc.

Inadequate fields for research are female reproduction, chromosomal aberrations, cancer, immune deficiency, neurological sequelae, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and children born after the Bhopal Gas tragedy. Late cases that might never come into light are respiratory insufficiency, cardiac insufficiency (cor pulmonale), cancer and tuberculosis. Bhopal now has high rates of birth defects and records a miscarriage rate 7x higher than the average of nation.


Conclusion

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy is biggest disaster in the History of India . Still many newborns were born with abnormalities. Approximately 5 lakh to 6 lakh people suffered from long term chronic disease after the leak. Environment of that region Still suffers and water is still undrinkable. This Tragedy give important direction to industries to take all precautions and ensure the safety of living beings. The people who suffered this still demand justice from government and courts.This disaster is leading consequence for M.C.Mehta to go before court in oleum gas leak. But these kind tragedy still continues in for many years.


Landmark Judgement Study – M.C.Mehta v, Union of India (Oleum Gas Leak Case)

Summary

Shriram Food and Fertilizers Industry was a subsidiary company of Delhi Cloth Mills Limited and was producing caustic and chlorine gasoline. On December 4th and 6th 1985, there was also petroleum gas leakage in one of the units of Shriram Food and Fertilizer Limited in the national capital Delhi which resulted in the death of numerous people, and one advocate who was practicing in Tis Hazari also died among with others. The leakage was the result of mechanical errors done by the human fault. The tank containing Oleum gas bursting and gas leaks as a result of the collapsing of the structure on which it was mounted was a cause for this leakage. It created fear in the minds of people residents in that area . People living in that area hardly recovered from this incident when the second incident occurred within two days, another gas leakage though was a not big as one as the result of the leakage through joints of the pipe. Just after a year from the Bhopal Gas tragedy, a large number of residents were affected including the public and working persons. The Oleum gas leak also reminded the people about painful tragedy which people are suffered same in the past of Bhopal gas disaster. M.C. Mehta, environmentalist lawyer, filed a PIL under Article 21 and 32 of the Constitution as he sought the closing and relocate the Shriram Industries which is engaged in producing and manufacturing harmful chemicals. This industry is located in the highly densely populated area of Kirti Nagar. The factory was immediately closed down by the Inspector of Factories and Commissioner (Factories) issued separate orders dated December 8 and 24,1985. The Oleum gas leak incident happened just a few months before Environment(Protection) Act,1986 come in force, and this act became a guiding force for having an strong and effective law. The petition was heard by a three-judge bench of constitutional court. Six orders were passed by the Supreme Court of India in this case. From the 6 orders, 4 orders were passed before the Environment (Protection) Act,1986 came into force. The orders put light on highly toxic and hazardous substances the industry must be dealt with. Also emphasized the importance of strong and controlled methods to minimize the hazards.


Judgement

Supreme Court Chief Justice P.N.Bhagwati after taking into account the safety concerns and health of the citizens held that these industries must continue to operate because they contribute in the large portion of the country’s economy and social development, therefore stating that the petition to eliminate these toxic and hazardous industries cannot be allowed. He held that the risk/danger factor can be reduced to a considerable extent by taking all the possible safety measures to ensure that these industries must be situated in an environment where the citizens are the least-affected and all the safety protocols must be strictly followed by these industries.The Court directed that Shriram industries deposit Rs 20 lakhs and to issue a bank guarantee for Rs. 15 lakhs for payments of compensation claims of the victims of oleum gas if there was any escape of chlorine gas within three years from the date of the order resulting in death or injury to any workmen or common people/public.


Reforms in Case

– The Supreme Court introduced the principle of absolute liability because it is the need that strict liability principle was not enough to protect the citizen’s rights. Chief Justice Bhagwati stated: If any harm results on account of such activity, the enterprise must be absolutely liable to compensate for such harm irrespective of the fact that the enterprise had taken all reasonable care and that the harm occurred without any negligence on its part.

– Only few months before the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 came into force did this incident become a guiding force for the implementation of such an effective and Strong law.

– The Supreme Court of India was seen as the guardian/protector of protection of the environment and also right to life under Article 21 include the right to lead a healthy, safe and pollution- free life.

– To issuing guidelines by the court, it also concluded that for the purpose of enforcement of fundamental rights under Article 32 some new methods and approaches must be adopted


Conclusion

Thanks to environmentalist and lawyer M.C.Mehta.This judgement is the one of the major ruling in the field of environmental law after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy . This case try to ensure that tragedy like Bhopal gas leak did not happen in future. This case guiding the Environmental (protection) Act,1986 . This case varied interpretations of the Right of citizen and liable the company to give compensation.Thus this case filled in as a landmark ruling throughout the entire existence of the Indian Judiciary.


Study Vizag Gas leak in 2020

Introduction


Vishakhapatnam Gas leak was the accident happened in the industry of LG polymers in area of RR Venkatapuram village near Gopalapuram on the outskirts of Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India on the early morning of 7th May, 2020 killing about 13 people and making 1000’s of people sick and unconscious after being exposed to the gasoline . The tragedy was totally avoidable and could have been managed with the proper functioning and check on the industry.

A harmful deadly styrene monomer vapour gas leaked out of a storage tank in LG Polymers which is a chemical plant owned by company of South Korea based LG Chemicals. Due to the covid 19 outbreak in the country the plant was not operating for almost about 40 days and the temperature difference at the bottom and top portion led to the formation of vapour/gas which later led to the gasoline leakage. Fortunately, the styrene monomer is quite heavy in the weight and can not spread in an area of more than 1.5 km of radius therefore a large area was saved from it.

The police came into force and a large number of people, about 2500 were evacuated from the place and shifted to camps and other safe places. Other injured patients were rapidly taken to the hospitals and were provided the adequate medical aid and treatment.


Actions taken in Case:

Human Rights Commission

The national Human Rights Commission of India give a notice to Andhra Pradesh government and the central government that it considered the incident as gross violation of India’s constitutional right to life under article 21 and it also seeks a detailed report from the government on rescue operations, medical treatment and rehabilitation centres and also ask the union ministry of corporate affairs to investigate any possible breaches of workplace health and safety law


LG Polymers has been booked under several sections of the Indian Penal Code:

(a) Negligence

(b) Endangering the life of others

(c) Causing hurt and

(d) Culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Suo-Motu cognizance of the case:

(1) The Andhra Pradesh High Court

(2) The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

(3) The National Green Tribunal (NGT)

All three have taken Suo-motu cognizance of the in case. The NGT has form a special committee to inquire into the matter in addition to imposing a penalty of Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million) on LG Polymers.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) applied the principle of “Strict Liability” instead of “Absolute liability” which would have been more appropriate, we can check this through oleum gas leak judgement .

Andhra Pradesh government donated Rs 1 Crore each for the kin of the deceased and for those who were injured in the incident making a total of 30 crores.


Conclusion

Exemplary damage beyond costs may occur when LG polymers violate the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and the Manufacture, Import, storage of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 controversy in LG polymers is no stranger ,the negligence still continues after Bhopal gas disaster and people still suffer from these kind of tragedy. Compensation cannot full fill the what they lost. Environment still suffer from this kind of tragedies.Future generations affected many years from chronic disease by this kind of leakages. This is the responsibility of government to make more strict laws about it. The tragedy happens in Vizag is Shameful in building collective guilt. If we still don’t wake up this tragedies still continues and people continue suffers….


References:

1. India today news

2, The Hindu

3, Study.com

4. Downtoearth.org

5. Britannica.com

6. Blog.ipleaders.in

7. Lawcrica.com

8.law sphere.in

9. Wikipedia

10. Time of India

11. S.C.Tripathi,Environmental Law CLA

12. Hindustan Times

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