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ECOCENTRIC APPROACHES OF THE RESTORATIVE JUSTICE THEORY VIS-À-VIS THE LEGAL ISSUES OF CIVIL AND ...

Section: A

Category: Research Paper

Paper Code: RP-MR-08

Page Number: 65 - 76

Date of Publication: February 10, 2021

Citation: Dr. Matiur Rahman, Ecocentric Approaches of the Restorative Justice Theory Vis-à-vis the Legal Issues of Civil and Criminal Liability of the Baghjan Blowout Case in Assam, 1, AIJACLA, 65, 65-76, (2021).

Details Of Author(s):

Dr. Matiur Rahman, M.A., LL.M., Dip. Labour Laws, Ph.D. (Law), Assistant Professor of Law, University Law College, Gauhati University


ABSTRACT The Restorative Justice Theory, in the context of an environmental crime or conflict, is a sustainable, as well as, an ecocentric approach to resolve the dispute to regenerate the damaged environment for the benefit of both present and future generations. This jurisprudential concept can be applied to the recent Baghjan Oil Well Disaster Case in the Tinsukia district of Assam for a peaceful extra-judicial resolution involving the State-owned company, the Oil India Limited, the Victims, and the Community. The blowout of Oil Well-5 caused long-term environmental damage and technically speaking, to both the ecology and economy of the region. This extensive damage needs to be looked into from an ecocentric rather than mere anthropocentric point of view for the blowout caused irreparable damage to both flora and fauna of the region. The blowout also evacuated more than 2000 families from the village of Baghjan, near the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. Many villagers lost their livestock. The Baghjan Oil Well blowout which caught fire subsequently spread rapidly and along with destroying a lot of wild flora and fauna also resulted in the death of two persons. The leak from Baghjan Oil Well-5 contaminated water bodies that flow into the MaguriMotapung Beel, a large wetland, and the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park both of which lie in the immediate vicinity. The massive fire destroyed more than 50 houses in the Baghjan area. It also caused serious air and water pollution. This paper aims to resolve the issues of human rights violations of the inhabitants of Baghjan village and loss of biodiversity in the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and MaguriMotapung Wetland involving the Offender (OIL), the Victims (Human and non-human) and the Community and, thereby, applying the restorative justice theory to meet the ends of justice. KEYWORDS Absolute Liability, Baghjan Oil Well Disaster, Biodiversity loss, Egocentrism, Environmental Justice, Environmental Liability Insurance, Human and Non-Human Rights Violations, Restorative Justice, and Sustainable Development


INTRODUCTION According to criminal law jurisprudence, crime is an offense against the State.[1] However, Restorative. Justice is a theory of justice according to which crime is an offense against the community rather than the state.[2]In matters of environmental crimes ‘victims’ include not only people but also ecosystems as well as future generations.[3] The logic behind the theory of restorative justice is that crime causes harm and justice requires repairing that harm. One core value of restorative justice is healing.[4] Restorative justice, as such, refers to a way of responding to crime, or to other types of wrongdoing, injustice, or conflict, that focuses primarily on repairing or healing the damage, as stated above, caused by the wrongful action and restoring, insofar as possible, the well-being of all those involved.[5] Since, in respect of environmental crimes, the victims can be people affected by adverse impacts, as well as, the ecosystems and the future generations, therefore, the sole objective of restorative justice is repairing the damage or healing the harm and, thereby, the offender can avoid prosecution for environmental crime. In Paraguay, in South America, a livestock company was held liable for illegal deforestation. As part of the process of restorative justice, the company agreed to reforest a plot of 1,860 hectares to avoid prosecution for environmental crime.[6]

GREEN VICTIMOLOGY: JUSTICE FOR HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN VICTIMS The aim of restorative justice is not only to give justice to human victims of environmental harm but also to specific environments and plants and animals, as well. The concept of restorative justice, as such, covers environmental justice[7] and species justice[8] which is technically known as Green or Environmental Victimology.[9] It needs to mention that “human victims of environmental harm are not widely recognized as victims of ‘crime’”.[10] Moreover, within the category of “victim”, the non-human environmental victim is seldom considered worthy of attention.[11]From an eco-justice perspective, “victimhood can be conceptualized in terms of environmental justice (the victim is human), ecological justice (the victim is specific environments) and species justice (the victim is animal and plant)”.[12] It needs to mention, further, in this regard, that wildlife trafficking can be equally evaluated as human trafficking but the only difference is that in matters of human trafficking, humans who suffer from such trafficking are assigned with the status of ‘victims’ which is very rare in cases of wildlife trafficking.[13] However, this conventional approach has been transformed into a more liberal concept with the development of the theory of restorative justice. Restorative justice covers animals and plants, as well, in the definition of Victimology, as explained above.

GREEN CRIMINOLOGY AND SOCIAL JUSTICEgreen criminology is a branch of criminology that involves the study of harms and crimes against the environment broadly conceived, including the study of environmental laws and policies, the study of corporate crimes against the environment, and environmental justice from a criminological perspective”.[14] Green criminology, as such, applies a broad “green perspective” to environmental harms, ecological justice, and the study of environmental legislations, constitutional commitments, in this regard, and criminality, which includes crimes affecting the environment and non-human nature. The Baghjan Oil Well disaster, in the Tinsukia district of Assam, caused irreversible damage to human life and property of the village and flora and fauna of nearby MaguriMotapungBeel and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.[15] The Preamble to the Constitution of India proclaims, interalia, justice: social, economic, and political. But to the utter disregard of the constitutional mandate, unfortunately, the human and species rights violations caused by the negligence of the State-owned company the Oil India Limited in the Baghjan Oil Well Disaster Case are[16]the instances of a gap in providing environmental and social justice. It needs to be quoted, in this regard, a part of the speech delivered by Sri Ramnath Kovid, His Excellency, the President of India, while inaugurating the Constitution Day Celebration, on the 26th day of November, 2018, that “In India, the idea of social justice to has expanded to encompass modern civic parameters, such as, clean air, less polluted cities and towns, hygiene in living condition, green and ecofriendly roads and development. These are all implications of environmental and climate justice within the framework of social justice. If a child suffers from asthma due to air pollution, I would consider that a gap in providing social justice.”[17]

VISION OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) Report, 1987[18], which encapsulates the notion of ‘sustainable development’[19]argues that “greater equality will lead to a more securely sustainable environment; poverty, itself, pollutes the environment creating environmental stress differently. Those who are poor and hungry will often destroy their immediate environment, to survive”. “Poor people typically have poor environments” and it is this insight that has given rise to what has come to be called the “Environmental Justice movement.”[20] The concept of “Environmental Justice” has its origin in the U.S. Environmental Justice Movement.[21] This movement is concerned with “Social Justice”.[22]Environmental justice speaks for a just distribution of environmental goods.[23] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency[24] reads “’environmental justice’ as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income concerning the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies”.[25]It advocates for ‘Fair Treatment’[26] and meaningful involvement’.[27] In short, Environmental Justice will be achieved when everyone on this planet enjoys the means of living without any man-made discrimination.[28]The Draft Environmental Strategy (1996) of the United States of America asserts an entitlement “All Americans deserve clean air, pure water, land that is safe to live in and food that is safe to eat” and translates equality to fair treatment. This is exactly the aim of the environmental justice movement.[29] It provides the entire humanity the right to be free from ecological destructions.[30]Environmental justice opposes the destructive operations of multinational corporations.[31] The concept of “environmental justice”, as such, is broader than just preserving the environment. Because, apart from preserving the environment, it includes social justice vis-a-vis environmental sustainability.

Constitutional and legislative environmentalism in India The doctrine of constitutional morality means adherence to the noble principles enshrined in a Constitution. Technically speaking, these principles are the basis of good governance, and adherence to these principles, in letter and spirit, from an ecological viewpoint, can ensure environmental rule of law and can establish good environmental governance, as well. In India “constitutional environmentalism” is reflected in Article 48-A[32] of the Constitution. It is the duty of the state, as such, to protect and preserve the fragile ecosystems and the environment. The right to a healthy environment is also recognized, in law, as a fundamental right, in India, emanating from Article 21 of the Constitution by judicial interpretation[33]. The failure of the State, as such, to take adequate steps to address climate change may constitute a violation of the right to a healthy environment.[34] The Stockholm Conference[35], 1972, was the starting point for India's legislations for ecology, environment, and biodiversity. Following this Conference, the Parliament of India, passed several Acts relating to ecology and environment and, thereby, initiating appropriate steps to implement the decisions taken by the Government of India in the said Conference.[36] The Acts of 1995, 1997, 2001, and 2002 drew their immense inspiration from the proclamation adopted by the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development[37], 1992. In 1976[38], the Constitution of India was, itself, amended with the incorporation of the subject of ecology, environment, and biodiversity in Articles 48-A[39] and 51 A(g)[40]. Article 48-A in Part IV of the Constitution which contains the Directive Principle of State Policy, enjoins: "The State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country". All these gave a fresh interpretation to the subject of "ecology, environment and biodiversity".

BAGHJAN OIL WELL DISASTER IN ASSAM: ECOLOGY AND GEOGRAPHY OF BAGHJAN OIL FIELD The Baghjan Oil Field is located in the district of Tinsukia near Baghjan village in Assam with a residential population of about 4,488 persons. The region is surrounded by several huge masses of Biodiversity Hotspots and thus become a very eco-sensitive region.[41] The oil well blowout occurred at Baghjan Gas Well No. 5 which is just less than 1 km away from the Dibru- Saikhowa National Park and is also very near to the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot.[42]

BAGHJAN BLOWOUT AND ECOLOGICAL DISASTER: The leaking of Baghjan-5 gas well of OIL caught fire around 1.00 p.m. on the 9thof June, 2020 triggering chaos and panic in several villages and also in two tea gardens nearby.[43] The workers of the tea gardens including the tea leaf pluckers fled from their workplace. Several got injured and almost 50 houses were damaged[44] as a result of that accident. The Baghjan tragedy also resulted in the death of two persons. The blowout also caused widespread and extensive damage to the flora, fauna, and biodiversity of the entire region.[45]OIL, therefore, must take responsibility for the outbreak of the inferno which leaped more than 300 feet into the air.[46] The blowout threatened the ecosystems of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park[47]. The wetlands inside the park came under grave threat following the massive oil well blowout at Baghjan Oil Field in the Tinsukia district[48]. The effects of the disaster will continue in the coming days or even months or years unless the leakage is brought under control immediately. The Baghjan blowout also caused extensive damage to the ecosystems of Maguri Wetland which constitutes a major and integral component of the National Park’s ecosystem.[49]

RESPONSES FROM DIFFERENT AUTHORITIES AGAINST THE DISASTER As a response to such a huge disaster, the Pollution Control Board of Assam issued a closure notice against OIL's order to close all its operations in the concerned district, however the notice was later canceled by the Board on the assurance from OIL to answer all its objections.[50] As reported in the electronic and print media, the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in New Delhi imposed an initial penalty of Rs.25 crores on Oil India Limited and also ordered the constitution of an Expert Committee to go into the entire gamut of the Baghjan Oil well disaster and come up with relief, rehabilitation, regeneration and future accident avoidance suggestions. The Committee is headed by Justice B.P. Kataki, retired Judge of the Gauhati High Court.[51] The penalty money was vested with the Deputy Commissioner, Tinsukia district for the time being, as reported.[52] As per the order of the NGT, the Expert Committee looked into 13 major[53] aspects of the Baghjan Oil well disaster. The Committee in its report revealed serious defects in the planning of OIL and also highlighted that there was a huge mismatch between their plans and the executions. It referred to the disaster to be an extensive one.[54]After examining all the aspects of the OIL sites, the Penal stated- “There was a deficiency in understanding of the gravity of a critical operation like removal of BOP without having a confirmed and tested secondary safety barrier. There was a deficiency in the proper planning of critical operations. There was a clear mismatch between planning and its execution at site and deviations from the standard Operating Procedure” the 406-page report of the panel said.[55] Baghjan Liability dimension in terms of public liability insurance Based on the principle of ‘Polluter Pays’ a framework for environmental liability was launched by Environmental Liability Insurance (ELI)[56]to prevent and remedy environmental damage.[57]It is understood as a mechanism to cover the cost of repairing environmental damage arising from each common law claim i.e., damages and claims arising from the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 in India by both the common peoples and the Judiciary.[58] It argues that the one who is responsible for damaging the environment shall be held liable for paying the cost of restoration. This concept also lays down a foundation for Sustainable Development.[59] In the year 1983, the UN General Assembly constituted a Commission called the World Commission on Environmental and Development (WCED)[60]with Mrs. G.H. Brundtland[61] as its Chairperson. The Commission defined the term sustainable development in its report which was submitted in 1987 as "the development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs."[62] Thus, Environmental Liability Insurance became a bold step in India for meeting the challenges of a highly industrialized economy by supporting the Principles of sustainable development. Significantly, after the Bhopal Gas Leak Tragedy[63] of December, 1984 the world's biggest industrial disaster caused by a subsidiary of an American Pesticide Factory, and after the Oleum Gas Leak accident[64] of December 1985, the Parliament of India passed a legislation called the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991, thereby, implementing the mandates of sustainable development and the judicial pronouncements of the Supreme Court of India in the famous "Oleum Gas Leak Case"[65].It needs to be stated here that this legislation, for the first time, acknowledged the “principle of no-fault liability." The Act made it mandatory for every industry handling hazardous substances to take insurance for providing relief to the victims in cases of accidents.[66] The Act was a legacy of two serious accidents, via- Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster and the Oleum Gas Leak Disaster. The Judgements provided for eco-restoration and for providing relief to the victims after the Bhopal Tragedy was severely criticized. The leading American Tort Lawyer Melvin M. Belli rightly characterized the settlement as "the most unethical, unconscionable thing I have heard in tort law in my 52 years of practice."[67]Prof. Upendra Baxi had criticized the assumptions which led to the Supreme Court settlement. He said, "not only was the compensation inadequate but the victim's pleas were not heard by the Court that was party to the award...."[68]Baxialso criticized the Supreme Court settlement as denial of human rights of MIC gas victims of Bhopal against a multinational.[69] Moreover, soon after this incident, the Oleum Gas Leak Case occurred which was addressed to the Supreme Court through a PIL by M.C. Mehta[70] , and while deciding this case the Court revealed that the Indian Judiciary didn't need to adhere to the English Rule of Strict Liability and took a bold step ahead and introduced the concept of Absolute Liability. Bhagwati, C.J. said: "We have to evolve principles and lay down new norms which will adequately deal with new problems which arise in a highly industrialized economy. We cannot allow our judicial thinking to be constructed by reference to the law as it prevails in England or for the matter of that in any foreign country. We are certainly prepared to receive light from whatever source it comes but we have to build our jurisprudence."[71] Thus, thereafter, the Parliament of India, passed the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 to implement the rule of absolute liability on the part of the "owner" and the "insurer" as well, to pay relief to the victims of environmental accidents. Under Section 3 of the Act, 1991, the owner shall be liable to pay different categories of reliefs[72] in different circumstances to the victims if any accidents took place. As defined u/s 2(e) of this Act, the term "insurance” means insurance against liability of the owner to give relief to the victims of pollution. It needs to be stated here that this liability is the absolute liability for the industries engaged with hazardous activities. And it is not subject to any exceptions as earlier recognized in England in Rayland-Vs-Fletcher'".[73]As defined u/s 2(ha), "Relief Fund" means the Environmental Relief Fund established u/s 7 A of this Act. The most crucial part of this Act, 1991 is its section 3. It imposes an absolute liability on the part of the owner to give relief to the victims of environmental accidents. The duty of the owner to take out insurance policies is mandated u/s 4 of this Act. The persons entitled to make an application for claim for relief is categorically mentioned u/s 6 of this Act. Award of relief to the victims is to be given by the Collector or District Magistrate following the procedures as provided u/s 7 of the Act. The Central Government has made the Environment Relief Fund Scheme, 2008.[74]The United Indian Insurance Company Ltd is the Fund Manager. For administering the relief fund, a separate account may be maintained in any nationalized bank in the name and style of "United India Insurance Company Ltd. Environment Relief Fund A/C".[75]

CONCLUSION According to the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP), Oil India Limited is liable not only to compensate the victims of the Baghjan Oil Well Disaster but also to the extent of regenerating or remedying the damaged environment. There is negligence and irresponsibility on the part of the State-owned company while handling the critical operations since as per the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2004, as amended, as of date, EIA is mandatory for 29 categories of development projects. As an integral part of the process of EIA, a public hearing is a mandate for environmental clearance. But to the utter disregard of the EIA Notification, unfortunately altogether 25 Oil Wells have been established in the eco-sensitive zones of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park over the years without any environmental clearance and without organizing any public hearing, thereby, violating constitutional mandates, as well. Who are the victims in the Baghjan Oil Well Disaster Case within the meaning of “green victimology”? There are three categories, namely, first human victims (environmental justice), second, it is the ecosystems (eco-justice) and thirdly, it is plant and animal (species justice). The issues of human and non-human victims can be resolved amicably by the application of restorative justice, thereby, involving the Offender (OIL), the Victims, and the Representatives of the Community. Environmental Liability Insurance depends on the standards of maintainability to mirror the idea of Green Insurance. Protection Industry, presently a-days, is assuming an urgent part in economic improvement by embracing it as a target. Presently the new idea that is arising in the current situation is Sustainable Insurance, which is a vital methodology towards supportability with a target to decrease hazard, create imaginative arrangements, improve business exhibitions, and offering commitment to ecological, social, and monetary manageability. The Brundtland Report, 1987 caused a few businesses and the board researchers to consider concerning how and why partnerships should consolidate ecological worries into their systems. Today, organizations have acknowledged their duty to do no damage to the climate. Corporate Social Responsibility is characterized as the obligation to cover the natural ramifications of the organization's activities, items, and offices; dispense with waste and emanations: augment the proficiency and profitability of its assets; and limit rehearses that may antagonistically influence happiness regarding the nation's assets by people in the future.


[1] Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, The Indian Penal Code (36th edn). [2] Loreley Fortuny, Impact Assessment, International Association for Impact Assessment, (Sep. 2020, 12, 03:30 PM), https://www.iaia.org/wiki-details.php?ID=4 [3] Ibid. It is an approach to justice in which one of the responses to a crime is to organize a meeting between the victims and the offender, sometimes with the representatives of the wider community. [4] War, Crime, Regulation, John Braithwaite, (Sep. 2020, 12, 05:25 PM), johnbraithwaite.com [5]Restorative justice is a fast-growing social movement and set of practices that aim to redirect society’s retributive (punishment-oriented) response to crime. Restorative justice views crime not as a depersonalized breaking of the law but as a wrong against other members of the community. [6] Supra note 4. [7] (where the victim is human), ecological justice (where the victim is specific environments). [8] where the victims are animals and plants. [9] Rob D White, Green Victimology and Non-Human Victims (2018) (Sep. 2020, 14, 12:12 PM), journals.sagepub.com [10] Ibid. [11] Ibid. [12] Ibid. [13] Maneka Gandhi series of reports: Animal Rights Violations, Asomya Pratidin 2011. [14] Environmental Social Sciences, Nature, (Sep. 2020, 20, 07:12 PM), www.nature.com [15] Maguri Motapung : An Asset Lost to Flames, Wetlands International, (Sep. 2020, 21, 08:00 PM), south-asia.wetlands.org. Thehindu.com [16] Economy Policy, ET Energyworld.com, (Sep. 2020, 21, 09:13 PM), energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com [17] Delhi Doordarshan Telecast : 26th of November, 2018. Sri Ramnath Kovind, His Excellency, the President of India, while inaugurating the Constitution Day Celebration organized by the Supreme Court Bar Association. [18] In the year 1983, the United Nations General Assembly constituted a Commission called the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) with Mrs. G.H. Brundtland, the then Prime Minister of Norway as its Chairperson to examine the state of world environment and development beyond 2000. The Commission submitted its Report in 1987 which noted that human future was at a risk if we continue the current modes of unsustainable development. [19] The WCED Report 1987 defined “sustainable development” as the development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs. [20] Andrew Dobson, Justice and the Environment : Conceptions of Environmental Sustainability and Theories of Distributive Justice, 17, (1998) -The fact that poor people live in poor environments is a starting point not only for environmental justice but environmentalism itself, as far as, much of the developing world is concerned. [21] Klaus Bosselmann & Benjamin J. Richardson, Environmental Justice and Market Mechanisms : Key Challenges for Environmental Law and Policy, 9, (1999). [22] Supra note 19. [23] Ibid. [24] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun to take environmental justice complaints seriously. epa derives its authority from title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Sec. 601. [25] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency, (Sep. 2020, 25, 11:24 PM), www.epa.gov. [26] Ibid. -Fair Treatment means that no group of people, including a racial, ethnic or a socio-economic group should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations. [27] Ibid. - Meaningful Involvement means that potentially affected community residents have an appropriate opportunity to participate in decisions about a proposed activity that will affect their environment and health. [28] Ibid. -Environmental justice is achieved when everyone regardless of race, culture, or income, enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn and work. [29] Supra note 20. [30] Principles of Environmental Justice at the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit adopted on 27th October, 1991 in Washington DC. - Environmental justice affirms the sacredness of Mother Earth, ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, and the right to be free from ecological destruction. [31] Ibid. [32] Directive Principle of State Policy in PART-IV of the Constitution, inserted by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976. [33] Subhash Kr. v. State of Bihar, AIR 1991 SC 420, Chhatriya Pradushan Mukti Sangarsh Samiti v. State of UP, AIR 1990 SC 2060. [34] M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, 1997 SC 734. [35] The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held at Stockholm, Sweden in the year 1972 from 5th to 16th June. Indian delegation was led by Mrs. Indira Gandhi the late Prime Minister of India. [36] The Acts Include- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976; The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act. 1977, The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Incidentally the enactment of The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, was coincidental with the Stockholm Conference. All these Acts drew their immense inspiration from the proclamation adopted by the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment, 1972. In the recent years, the Parliament also enacted- The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991, The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995, The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997, subsequently repealed by the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, The Information Technology Act, 2000, The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer's Rights Act, 2001, The Freedom of Information Act, 2002, repealed by the Right to Information Act, 2005, The Biological Diversity Act, 2002, and The Disaster Management Act, 2005. [37] Popularly known as Rio Earth Summit was held at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil from 3rd to 14th June,1992, Indian delegation was led by Mr. Narshimha Rao, the late Prime Minister of India. [38] The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976. [39] Directive Principle of State Policy vis-à-vis the fundamental duty of the State to protect and improve the environment. [40] Fundamental duty of every citizen of India incorporated into the Constitution by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 -By the said Amendment Act, the subject of Forests and Wildlife was also transferred from State List to Concurrent List so that the Central Government may also play a meaningful role in this increasingly significant area. [41]Baghjan Oil Field can also be traced near the famous Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Assam and it is also in proximity to MaguriMotapung Beel, a natural wetland. Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is the only riverine island wildlife reserve globally. The Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is also connected to Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh via the DehingPatkai Wildlife Sanctuary. These regions are the part of the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot, (Sep. 2020, 26, 09:00 PM), indianexpress.com; www.ndtv.com; thenortheasttoday.com. [42] Ibid. [43] Ibid. [44] Ibid. [45] Ibid. [46] DownToEarth, (Sep. 2020, 26, 11:46 PM), www.downtoearth.org.in. [47] Ibid. [48] Ibid. [49] Ibid. [50] Ibid. [51] Ibid. [52] Ibid. [53] These include the cause of oil and gas leak, extent and loss of damage to human life, wildlife, environment, damage and health hazard caused to the public, whether any contamination has been caused to water, air and soil of the area of the oil well and its vicinity, extent of contamination of waters of nearby rivers due to oil spil, impact on eco-sensitive zone of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and MaguriMotapung Wetland, impact on agriculture, fishery, whether any mitigation measure have been put in place by oil, fix responsibility i.e., person responsible for the blowout and the cause of failure to prevent the mishap, assessment of compensation for the victims and the cost of restoration of the damage to property and the environment, preventive and remedial measures etc., (Sep. 2020, 13, 02:00 AM), www.pratidintime.com; energy.economictimes.indiantimes.com. [54] Ibid. [55] Ibid. [56] Polluter Pays Principle is a sustainable approach to ensure compensation of the victims and restoration of the damaged ecology as an integral part of the process of sustainable development. [57] In other words, environmental liability insurance covers the cost of restoring damage caused by environmental accidents, such as, pollution of air, water and land and biodiversity damage, (Sep. 2020, 28,04:55 PM), www.argyllenvironmental.co.uk. [58] M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, AIR 1987 SC 1086. [59] Ibid. -It also lays down that the absolute liability for harm to the environment extends not only to compensate the victims of pollution but also to the extent of restoring the damaged environment. Because remediation or regeneration of the damaged environment is the part of the process of sustainable development. [60] Supra note 17. [61] The then Prime Minister of Norway, to study the world environment and development beyond 2000. [62] Supra note 18. [63] Union Carbide Corporation (USA) v. Union of India, AIR 1990 SC 273. [64] Supra note 63. [65] Ibid. [66] Preamble to the Act of 1991. [67] Upendra Baxi, A New Initiative, The Illustrated Weekly of India, 30, January 28 – February 3 (1990). [68] Ibid. [69] Ibid. [70] Supra note 63. [71] M.C. Mehta v. Union of India AIR 1987 SC 1086. [72] The different categories of reliefs include- Reimbursement of medical expenses incurred up to amaximum of Rs.12,500.00 in each case, For fatal accidents, the relief will be Rs.25,000.00 per person in addition to reimbursement of medical expenses, if any, incurred on the victim upto a maximum of Rs.12,500.00; For permanent total or permanent partial disability or other injury or sickness, the relief will be: (i) reimbursement of medical expenses incurred if any, upto a maximum of Rs. 12,500.00[72] in each case; andCash relief on the basis of percentage of disablement as certified by an authorized physician. The relief of total permanent disability will be Rs.25,000.00. [73] Ibid. [74] Ibid. [75] Ibid.

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Section: D Category: Case Commentary Paper Code: CC-NC-01 Page Number: 458 - 460 Date of Publication: February 10, 2021 Citation: Namrata Chakrabarty, Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma, 1, AIJACLA, 458

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