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Mumbai oil spill: NGT asks Centre to execute order in 2 weeks

Irked over non-execution of its order directing a Panama-based shipping company and its two Qatar-based sister concerns to pay Rs 100 crore as damages for causing an oil spill off Mumbai coast in 2011, the NGT has directed the Centre to implement its order in two weeks.

The green panel on August 23 last year had directed the three companies to pay Rs 100 crore as environmental compensation (EC) to the Ministry of Shipping, and ordered Gujarat-based Adani Enterprises Ltd to pay Rs five crore as EC for dumping on the seabed 60,054 metric tonnes of coal which was being carried by the ship M V RAK.

However, the order remains unexecuted till date as the three companies are based outside the country and the government has failed to serve the order upon them.

Taking note of the developments, a bench headed by NGT chief Justice Swatanter Kumar directed Ministry of Shipping and other ministries concerned to seek instructions with regard to execution of its August 23 order.

“The Counsel appearing for Ministry of Shipping, Coast Guard and other concerned ministries submit that they would take instructions from their respective Ministries in regard to execution of decree against the Judgment letter.

“It is further stated that they would also find out the process and method and/or procedure for execution of the decree passed by the Tribunal in a foreign country. Last opportunity is granted to execute the Judgment and orders of the Tribunal within two weeks,” the bench said.

The NGT had delivered the judgement on the plea of a Mumbai-based environmentalist seeking execution of its order directing three firms to pay damages for causing an oil spill when a cargo vessel sank off Mumbai coast in 2011, damaging marine ecology.

The tribunal had issued notices to the Ministries of Environment, Forests, Shipping, Defence and Home Affairs, Delta Navigation WLL, Delta Group International, Adani Enterprises Ltd and Astra Asigurari Insurance while seeking their replies.

The green body had asked Republic of Panama’s Delta Shipping Marine Services SA, Qatar-based Delta Navigation WLL and Delta Group International to pay Rs 100 crore to the Ministry, observing that reports showed that the documents in favour of the ship were issued in a biased manner and the vessel was “not seaworthy”, right from the inception of its voyage.

The plea, filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary, had also sought directions to the Centre and other authorities to initiate legal steps for recovery of the amounts from them.

Mehta had alleged that despite the NGT order, the three shipping companies had “failed and neglected” to pay the environmental compensation.

The ship, which was sailing from Indonesia to Dahej in Gujarat, sank 20 nautical miles off the South Mumbai coast in the Arabian Sea on August 4, 2011.

The ship was also carrying more than 60,000 metric tonnes of coal for Adani Enterprises Ltd thermal power plant in Gujarat, besides containing 290 tonnes of fuel oil and 50 tonnes of diesel.

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