The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Tuesday directed a Panama-based shipping company and its two Qatar-based sister concerns to pay up Rs 100 crore as damages for causing an oil spill when a cargo vessel sank off the Mumbai coast in 2011, damaging the marine ecology.
The bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar also ordered Gujarat-based Adani Enterprises Ltd to pay Rs five crore as environmental compensation for dumping in the seabed 60054 MT coal, being carried by the ship M V RAK, and polluting the marine environment.
The tribunal asked the Republic of Panama’s Delta Shipping Marine Services SA, Qatar-based Delta Navigation WLL and Delta Group International to pay Rs 100 crore to the government.
The NGT passed its order on a petition filed by Samir Mehta, a Mumbai-based environmentalist, who had sought compensation for damages caused to the marine ecology due to the oil spill.
The ship, which was sailing from Indonesia to Dahej in Gujarat, sank 20 nautical miles off the South Mumbai coast in the Arabian Sea on August 4, 2011. The vessel was owned by Delta Shipping Marine Services SA while Delta Navigation WLL and Delta Group International were responsible for its voyage.
The ship was also carrying more than 60,000 metric tonnes of coal for Adani Enterprises Ltd thermal power plant in Gujarat besides containing 290 tonnes of fuel oil and 50 tonnes of diesel.
“We are of the considered view that determined damages of Rs 100 crore should be paid by and recovered from respondents number 5, 7 and 11, jointly and severally while respondent number 6 is held liable to pay Rs 5 crore as environmental compensation for dumping of the cargo in the sea and then failing to take any precautionary or preventive measures,” the NGT said.
The tribunal also constituted a committee to look into various aspects, including to study and report to it within a month on whether removal of the ship wreck and cargo from its present location should be directed as per global conventions and in the interest of marine environment.
Meanwhile, the bench said it was “a clear case where negligence is attributable to the four firms” and added that it was not a case of sinking of a ship by “accident simpliciter”.
“But it is a case where element of mens rea can be traced from the unfolding of the events that finally led to the sinking of the ship on August 4, 2011. Non-rendering of requisite help by the ship owner and other persons interested and responsible, to the Master of the ship, despite the fact that they had complete knowledge about the status of the ship prior to the occurrence of the incident on August 4, 2011,” the NGT said.