NGT takes suo motu cognisance of K'taka quarry blast

NGT takes suo motu cognisance of Chikkaballapur quarry blast

Six people died and one got injured in Hirenagavalli, in Chikkaballapur on February 22 night after gelatin sticks used in stone quarry exploded

The National Green Tribunal has taken Suo Motu cognisance of the blast in a stone quarry at Hirenagavalli, in Chikkaballapur district and formed a panel to study the incident and suggest remedial measures to avoid its recurrence. 

The NGT principal bench headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also issued notice to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), Director, Department of Mines, Karnataka and the Deputy Commissioner Chikkaballapur district.

Read | Ringing mobile phone may have triggered quarry blast in Chikaballapur: Forensic experts 

Six people died and one got injured in Hirenagavalli, in Chikkaballapur on February 22 night after gelatin sticks used in stone quarry exploded.

The green bench constitutes a six-member joint committee comprising the CPCB, SPCB, Deputy Commissioner Chikkaballapur, a nominee of Director General, Mines, Government of India,  Chief Controller of Explosives, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Nagpur, and the Director, Mines, Karnataka and asked it to file a report to the Tribunal.

It posted the matter for consideration on April 30.

Read | BJP leader Gudibande Nagaraj, key accused in Chikkaballapur blast, held 

"The committee may visit the site preferably within next one week and give its report about the cause of the incident, the extent of damage caused, the extent of compensation required to be paid for damage to the environment as well as for the loss of lives, injuries and steps required to be taken for preventing any such occurrence in future within one month," the NGT said.

Apart from visiting the site at least once, the Committee will be free to conduct its proceedings online. The Committee may suitably interact with the stakeholders and, apart from considering the present incident, also consider remedial measures for preventing such incidents in the area or by other establishments even beyond the said area, said the bench.

Read | Chikkaballapur quarry blast: 5 held, 2 cops suspended

The Committee may compile information about the existence and working of onsite and offsite plans in terms of 1989 Rules and conducting of mock drills and safety standard of operation (SOPs). Since in the recent past, the Tribunal has dealt with similar issues of industrial accidents resulting in deaths and injuries and expert committees in some of such accidents have given reports to this Tribunal, such reports may also be taken into account by the Committee to the extent relevant, the Tribunal said.

The green bench said that the entire incident raised a number of questions including whether  Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 (“the 1989 Rules”) and Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response)  Rules, 1996 (The 1996 Rules), which have been framed under the  Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EP Act), falling in the schedule to the NGT Act, 2010 followed by quarry owner.

Read: Chikkaballapur quarry blast occurred during rush to hide explosives fearing raid

"It is necessary to determine the question and if necessary, award relief under Section 15 of the NGT Act to the victims and for the restoration of the environment, after determining the liability of the persons engaged in such activity as well as the role of the statutory regulators in failing to prevent the same. The further question of preventive measures to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future in such activities also needs to be gone into," said the bench.

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EP Act) and the rules required preparation of the onsite and off-site plan and conducting of a mock drill, the bench observed.

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