Kamala Mills owner says it’s illegal detention in Supreme Court.

The owner of Mumbai’s Kamala Mills today moved the Supreme Court challenging his arrest in connection with a fire that claimed 14 lives in December last year.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked Ravi Bhandari to serve a copy of his petition to the Maharashtra government.

The top court listed the matter for further hearing on March 27.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Bhandari, said his arrest is illegal detention and he can’t be booked for the offence of culpable homicide.

He said the apex court has already held in the Bhopal gas tragedy and Uphaar cinema hall fire case that they are cases of negligence, which is a bailable offence.

The Bombay High Court had recently dismissed Bhandari’s bail application.

Bhandari was arrested in January along with fire officer Rajendra Patil and Utkarsh Pandey, who supplied hookahs to the pubs Mojo’s Bistro and 1 Above where the fire started. All three are in judicial custody.

Fourteen persons were killed and several others injured when a fire broke out at the two pubs in the Kamala Mills compound in central Mumbai on December 29, 2017.

Supreme Court concerned over smog and pollution in Delhi

The Supreme Court expressed concern over the rising pollution and smog in the national capital and decided to deal with it.

“We are concerned with the level of smog in the city. Everyday we are hearing about the rising level of pollution in the city. We will deal with the matter,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said.

The observations were made during the hearing of a matter relating to the waste of the Bhopal gas tragedy at the Union Carbide plant.

The MeT officials, meanwhile, said the smoggy condition is due to low temperature and lack of wind, but it is likely to dispel after November 7 when the weather will experience some change in wind pattern due to approaching western disturbance.

The cause of smoggy weather has been attributed to non dispersal of pollutants due to lower temperature and lower wind speed. The city’s air pollution too has contributed to this type of weather.

 

By PTI

Ground water study at Bhopal gas plant in October, SC told

Drilling for studies on ground water contamination at the site of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy would start in October after the rains subside, the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) Tuesday told the Supreme Court.

The institute plans to start the drilling work for collection of soil and water samples from within the abandoned Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal.

The IITR told the apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar that it had got permission from the custodian of plant for the collection of samples but it was not possible to start work due to the on-going monsoon.

The court was told that once samples were collected, the institute would take three months for their processing and analysis.

The IITR said the the soil and subsoil samples from the plant would first have to be air dried under natural environmental conditions in order to avoid any loss of volatile components.

The institute in a report to the apex court said that it had collected water samples from 25 sites from shallow hand pump and deep bore wells around the plant.

The report said that in 12 of the samples the level of nickel in 12 of water samples exceeded the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) guidelines but was below the WHO guidelines.

Lead levels were found to exceed the BIS guidelines in four of the samples. Cadmium content was found to be above the guidelines in one samples.

The report said that the presence of the organic toxicants in the water samples were well below the permissible limits prescribed by the regulatory agencies.

The apex court Aug 28 directed the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board to permit the IITR representatives to enter the Union Carbide premises for drilling and taking samples from within the factory premises.

SC poses searching queries to Centre on Kudankulam

The Supreme Court on Thursday wanted to know from the Centre as to what would be the guarantee that there would be no radio active substance in the spent fuel to be stored at the controversial Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu to prevent any accident.

Posing a host of searching queries to the Centre on the functional safety of the power plant, a bench of justices K S Radhakrishanan and Deepak Misra also asked if any environmental impact assessment was done on the project.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on next Thursday, saying that it would pass appropriate orders after examining the issue at length.

“It is not adversarial. We are concerned with the people’s rights and interests. It is in public interest. What will be the guarantee that there will be no radio active material in it?

“In 1984 there was the Bhopal gas tragedy. But the problem of waste is still there. If there is a problem, how to meet it?” the bench asked Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman and Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, who appeared for the Centre.

The bench was dealing with the petition filed by social activist G Sundarrajan challenging the Madras high court’s decision not to impose any restraint against the plant, despite the alleged non-compliance of several safety measures recommended by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.

Appearing for the petitioner, counsel Prashant Bhushan told the bench that not only 11 out of the 17 recommendations made by the AERB were violated by the government but even minimum statutory norms like environmental assessment impact and disaster management study and measures have been overlooked for loading the fuel in the plant.

“Was any environmental impact assessment done?” the bench asked the Centre to which Parasarn nodded in the affirmative.

(Source : PTI)

Apex court to hear plea to hike Bhopal gas victims’ relief

The Supreme Court Thursday said it would hear a petition of the central government seeking enhancement of compensation for the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy to the tune of Rs.7,500 crore.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice Altmas Kabir, Justice R.V. Raveendran, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice Aftab Alam passed the order after considering the government’s petition during the in-chamber hearing.

The court in its brief order said: ‘Place these petitions seeking enhancement in court along with curative petition in CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) vs Keshub Mahindra on Feb 28 at 2 p.m.’

The gas tragedy killed 3,000 people instantly and affected over 15,000 due to a leak of methyl isocyanate gas from the Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in the heart of Bhopal.

On Dec 3 last year, the 26th anniversary of the Bhopal Gas tragedy, the central government moved a petition in the court seeking revised compensation for the victims and the consequent environmental degradation.

The government sought the enhancement of compensation, determined by the apex court in 1989, on the grounds that the settlement arrived in 1989 was based on the ‘assumptions of truth unrelated to realities’.

The petition said that the revised amount sought in 2010 was on account of devaluation of rupee, interest rate and purchasing power parity and inflation index.

At the time of calculating earlier compensation, the number of dead was taken to be 3,000, which subsequently turned out to be 5,295. Similarly the victims with minor injuries were taken as 50,000 which eventually turned out to be 527,895.

The total revised amount being sought in the petition is $1,241.38 million as per Aug 22, 2010 rates.

The basis for calculating this amount was that the compensation awarded in February 1989 was Rs.675.96 crore. When converted into dollars at the then prevailing rates it would have been equal to $442.67 million.

The petition contended that if the amount had remained invested in dollars on yearly basis and based on London interbank offered rate it would have become $1,241.38 million by Aug 22, 2010.

The amount of compensation to be paid in 2010 varies based on the parameters of calculating it. The compensation awarded in February 1989 is being claimed in 2010, the petition said.

The petition placed various options before the apex court for calculating the enhanced compensation. That included the levying of interest, calculating by taking inflation index in consideration and basing calculation on dollar value as prevailing today.

The petition also sought the recovery of Rs.1,743.15 crore which the central government and the Madhya Pradesh government spent in the aftermath of the tragedy for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims.

The petition said that this was the tax payer’s money, which could not be spent on the wrong committed by the Union Carbide.

Another component of the revised compensations was Rs.315.7 crore which, the petition said, was spent on the handling of the toxic waste left behind by the gas leak.

Eight held guilty for Bhopal gas tragedy, get two years in jail

Twenty-six years after the world’s worst industrial disaster that had left over 15,000 people dead, a local court today convicted all the eight accused including former Union Carbide Chairman Keshub Mahindra in the Bhopal Gas tragedy case.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohan P Tiwari pronounced the verdict in a packed court room convicting 85-year-old Mahindra, and seven others in the case relating to leakage of deadly methyl isocyanate gas in the intervening of Dec 2 and 3 1984. 

They were held guilty under Sections 304-A (causing death by negligence), 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 336, 337 and 338 (gross negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.

However, there was no no word on Warren Anderson, the then Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation of the US, who was declared an absconder after he did not not subject himself to trial in the case that began 23 years ago.

Others found guilty are Vijay Gokhle, the then Managing Director of UCIL, Kishore Kamdar, the then Vice President, J N Mukund, the then Works Manager, S P Choudhary, the then Production Manager, K V Shetty, the then Plant Superintendent and S I Quershi, the then Production Assistant.

The sentencing in the case is expected later. Arguments on the quantum of sentence were put forward by the defence and prosecution counsel.

Except Quershi, all the seven others, including Mahindra, were present in the court. A ninth accused R B Roy Choudhary, the then former Assistant Works Manager of UCIL, Mumbai, had died during the course of the trial.

A total of 178 prosecution witnesses were examined in the trial and 3008 documents were produced while eight defence witnesses deposed in the court.

Anderson, who did not face trial, is based in the US. The companies–Union Carbide Corporation, USA and Union Carbide Eastern, Hong Kong –were also not represented in the trial.

FIR in the tragedy was filed on December 3, 1984 and the case was transferred to CBI on December 6, 1984. The CBI filed the chargesheet after investigation on December 1, 1987. Subsequently, a local court had framed charges against the accused.

CBI counsel C Sahay had argued that defective design of UCIL and its poor maintenance resulted into the tragedy that had left 2259 dead immediately after the mishap. The lingering effects of the highly poisonous methyl isocyanate killed over 15,000 people.

Sahay contended that Union Carbide Corporation, USA, in its survey of the factory in 1982 had found serious safety and maintenance lapses on nearly 10 counts. The prosecution argued that even after UCC experts’ team visit to the factory, adequate safety measures and maintenance works were not undertaken in UCIL.

A Central team, which visited the UCIL plant post-tragedy in 1984, also found lapses in safety norms and maintenance, the counsel had said.

Refuting the charge that lapses in maintenance and safety norms had led to the tragedy, defence counsel D Prasad and Amit Desai had argued that all steps were followed to keep the UCIL’s Bhopal factory in a proper shape.

The defence had also refuted the charge that a team of Union Carbide Corporation, USA, which visited the plant following the death of a worker here in 1982, had found any fault in the unit.

The defence had contended that the UCIL was so much concerned on the safety front that after the death of Mohammed Ashraf Khan, it had reported the matter to the UCC, USA, which had carried out a safety audit.