National Green Tribunal

National Green Tribunal: In suo motu proceedings in the light of media report captioned “Five including man and son suffocated to death at brick kiln in Chhattisgarh”, the three- member Bench of Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member) and A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member), issued advance notice to the State Pollution Control Board and District Magistrate, Mahasamund, Chhattisgarh and administered the District Magistrate to ensure reimbursement of amount Rs. 20 lakhs each to the successor of the deceased and Rs. 2 lakhs to the injured within two months, and directed StateLegal Authority to provide legal aid in the matter.

In the case at hand, six labourers were working in a brick kiln and set a gathered pile of bricks for heating at night and slept. The next day, the brick owner and the brick maker found labourers lying in an unsensible situation on the bricks. Thereafter, all the labourers were shifted to the hospital where doctor declared five of the labourers dead and one labourer injured due to Asphyxia by smoking inhalation.

The Tribunal after placing reliance on MC Mehta v. UOI, (1987) 1 SCC 395, said that it is confirmed that the five persons had died which had nexus to the activities of the brick kiln operating in violation of mandate of law, that safety is absolute liability of a person undertaking hazardous business activity.

The Tribunal took note of In Re: News item published in Newspaper the Hindu dated 07-03-2023 titled “Three children die during illegal mining in West Bengal” wherein it was held that where law violator is not made to pay compensation, the State has also been held to be liable to pay compensation as per its duty as welfare State to protect the citizen and also for failure to take steps to protect the citizens against hazardous illegal activities to prevent which is duty of the State.

Thus, the Tribunal said that the fact remains that deaths and injuries are on account of brick kiln activities for which the victims have to be compensated and the State has to take precautions to prevent such incidents in future, apart from paying compensation with liberty to recover the same from the entity concerned. Further, it asked the State Legal Service Authority to provide legal aid in the matter and directed District Magistrate to ensure compensation of amount Rs. 20 lakhs each to the successor of the deceased and Rs. 2 lakhs to the injured with in two months and also guided State Legal Authority to provide legal aid in the matter.

[In re: News item published in Times of India dated 16-03-2023 titled (Five including man & son suffocate to death at brick kiln in C’garh), 2023 SCC OnLine NGT 142, decided on 06-04-2023]

Also read:

State cannot escape liability for violation of environmental norms and negligence by its authorities; responsible to compensate the victims of illegal mining: NGT

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