NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal today transferred to its Southern Bench two pleas seeking compensation to people affected by the recent oil spill off the coast of Tamil Nadu and seizure of the vessels involved.
The Principal Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar transferred the petitions filed here to its Southern Bench in Chennai while noting that a similar plea is already pending there.
"We would have considered it but the Southern Bench has already taken cognisance of the matter and the issue is pending before it," the bench said, adding it would not be appropriate for it to interfere in it.
"We do not consider that this matter should be dealt with by the Principal Bench as it is already being heard by the Southern Bench. These petitions are transferred to the Southern Bench and it be listed there for February 20," it said.
The tribunal said the Southern bench should also consider the petitioners' plea seeking compensation.
The bench had yesterday issued notice to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), the central and state pollution control boards, the Ministry of Shipping and the Tamil Nadu government through its chief secretary and sought its response by today.
The petitions has sought constitution of an expert committee to oversee and monitor the entire clean up process and assess the damage caused to the environment.
"The fish and all the other aquatic animals have become victims of the widespread disaster caused by the two vessels as a result of their negligence," the plea filed by one petitioner Ashwini Kumar through advocate Sumeer Sodhi said.
In another plea, the counsel has sought a direction to the authorities to follow national and international protocol in dealing with the disaster.
The petitions have also made parties the owners of the offending ships, including Gurgaon-based Tokio Marine Holdings Inc.
On January 28, 2017, two merchant vessels -- MV Maple Galaxy, owned by Tokio Marine Holding Inc. and under charter party contract with Indian Oil Corporation, collided with vessel MT Dawn Kanchipuram, operated by unknown persons near the Port of Kamarajar in Ennore, Tamil Nadu. The collision led to a massive spill of hazardous oil and LPG near the shoreline "causing severe damage to the ecosystem in the area and which will eventually become toxic for marine life in and around the place of incident and further result in health and other damage to the residents of the vicinity," one of the pleas has said.