The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday asked Panama-based Delta Shipping Marine Services SA and its two Qatar-based sister companies to pay Rs 100 crore as damages for the 2011 Mumbai oil spill. It also asked Adani Enterprises to cough up Rs 5 crore for polluting the marine environment.
The ship, M V RAK, was carrying coal to be delivered for one of Adani’s thermal plants in Gujarat. The ship headed to Dahej port in Gujarat carrying 290 tonne oil, 50 tonne diesel and 60,054 tonne coal sunk 20 km off the coast of South Mumbai on August 4, 2011, leading to oil spill.
While asking the three firms — Delta Shipping, Qatar-based Delta Navigation WLL and Delta Group International — to pay R100 crore as environmental compensation to the Union ministry of shipping, a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar also ordered Gujarat-based Adani Enterprises to pay R5 crore as damages for dumping in the seabed 60054 MT coal and polluting the marine environment and then “failing to take any precautionary or preventive measures”.
Holding that no country or agency has the right to sail an “unseaworthy” ship in Indian waters, the tribunal observed that the Indian coastline is increasingly vulnerable in the wake of these incidents. It also said the defaulting entities had adopted the “most careless and reckless attitude”.
The tribunal also formed an eight-member committee headed by the additional secretary, ministry of shipping, to take a call on what to do with the wreckage of the ship on the ocean floor and decide how and whether to remove the wreck within a month and what compensation should be paid by the companies at regular intervals for preventing and controlling the pollution.
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”.
“On the true and purposive construction of the international conventions and the statutory provisions afore-referred, no party from any country in the world has the right/privilege to sail an unseaworthy ship to the Contiguous and Exclusive Economic Zone of India and in any event to dump the same in such waters, causing marine pollution, damage or degradation thereof,” the judgment stated.
Mumbai-based environmentalist Samir Mehta had sought compensation for restitution and restoration of the marine ecology and ecosystem on the basis of ‘Polluter Pays Principle’.