Tamil Nadu

Chennai oil spill: HC says govt.may look at ‘urgent’ measures

: Wondering under what law could the court order detention of two ships that collided off the Ennore Port resulting in a major oil spill into the sea, the Madras High Court has disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition noting that the State government may look into the issue urgently and take steps as deemed proper.

The First Bench comprising Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice M. Sundar made the observations on a PIL moved by the National Union of Fishermen, represented by its President M.E. Raja, seeking to order detention of the two vessels – MT Dawn Kanchipuram and MT BW Maple.

The petitioner also wanted the court to direct the authorities concerned to initiate prosecution and recover costs from the erring parties, and protect the interests of the fishermen.

When the PIL came up for hearing on Friday, counsel for the petitioner Mr. Nandhakumar contended that according to the “polluter pays” principle, if a non-Indian ship crossed the territorial waters of India, the government may not be able to recover anything from the owner of the vessel.

Though the country has had a National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan since 1996, no proper mechanism has been put in place to initiate immediate action in case of an oil spill, the petitioner said. “As per the oil spill plan, the State government has the power and equal responsibility to check the spread of the spill and the Inspector General of Coast Guard, East Coast Guard Region is the designated officer for initiating prosecution and recover costs.”

Recording the submission, the Bench said, “This, of course, in no manner absolves the government of the responsibility to take necessary steps to remove the pollutant, for which the National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, is already stated to have been approached.”

Noting that no direction can be issued in the matter, the Bench said, “The State government may look into the issue urgently to take such steps as deemed proper in the given situation, especially keeping in mind that as per the petitioner there have been some recent developments in terms of registration of FIR and some action post filing of the petition.”


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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 2:19:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Chennai-oil-spill-HC-says-govt.may-look-at-%E2%80%98urgent%E2%80%99-measures/article17186856.ece

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