New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) The National Green Tribunal has expressed disappointment over non-utilization of more than Rs 800 crore meant towards Environment Relief Fund for victims of accidents in the process of handling hazardous substances and asked the environment ministry to look into it.
NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel passed the order on an application by Gyan Prakash, a retired official from the Ministry of Defence, expressing grievance that the funds are lying unutilized as the collectors do not publish the accidents and victims are not aware of the remedies and relief available.
Public Liabilities Insurance Act, 1991 was enacted for providing immediate relief to persons affected by accident in handling hazardous substance. It provides for establishing an environment relief fund and the amount is to be utilized in terms of award made by the collector on any application by the victims.
“We find it to be travesty of justice that even after 29 years of the enactment of a laudable welfare legislation and inspite of deposit of huge amount meant for the needy victims, the amount remains unutilized to the detriment of the victims for whose benefit the law was enacted,” the green tribunal said in an order dated November 20.
NGT acknowledged that an amount of Rs 881 crore has been deposited with the Fund Manager, United India Insurance Company Limited but rued that there is no information whether any amount has been utilized.
“The purpose for which law was enacted is not being achieved. The victims are suffering on account of ignorance and even collectors who are required to publish information are not doing so,” the bench, also comprising Judicial Member S.K. Singh and Expert Members S.S. Garbyal and Nagin Nanda further said.
The bench went on to say that there is an urgent need for bridging gaps in existence and enforcement of such law by all concerned. “The MoEF (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change) being nodal Ministry may look into this aspect and take necessary action.”