Supreme Court stays NGT order on forming committee in Assam’s Baghjan incident

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The bench has said that it will pass orders to set up a “new committee” for assessment including a retired SC judge and environment experts.
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Assam movie 'Baghjan' selected in the prestigious 'Goes to Cannes' section
The Baghjan Well Site (file photo)

Supreme Court stays NGT order on forming committee in Assam’s Baghjan incident

Guwahati: Supreme Court on Thursday stayed a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order constituting a fresh six-member committee to repair accountability for the failure of the involved people within the hearth incident in Assam’s Baghjan oil well.

The court also rapped the body for including the Oil India Ltd (OIL) MD in the panel.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah issued notice to the Ministry of environment and Forests, Ministry of Petroleum, Oil India and others while seeking their response on the appeal.

Expressing surprise at the NGT order, the top court said Oil India Ltd (OIL) was accused of polluting the wetlands, but its MD was made a member of the inquiry Committee.

“We are wholly disappointed by the manner in which the NGT has pushed this issue out of its hand. It’s the National Green Tribunal. It should not have done this,” the bench said.

The top court stayed the February 19, 2021 order of  the NGT, which said OIL cannot disown its responsibility on the fire incident in Assam’s Baghjan oil well by shifting the blame on the contractor and constituted a fresh six-member committee to fix responsibility for the failures of the concerned individuals in the present incident.

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by activist Bonani Kakkar challenging February 19 order.

Well number 5 at Baghjan in Tinsukia district, had been spewing gas uncontrollably and it caught fire on June 9 last year, killing two of OIL’s fire fighters on the site.

The bench has also said that it will pass orders to set up a “new committee”. “We will set up one committee for assessment including a retired SC judge and environment experts. There should be domain experts in the committee,” said the bench.

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