Baghjan Oil Spill: Supreme Court directs NGT to effectuate disbursal of compensation within 2 months

Read Time: 06 minutes


NGT has been asked to proceed ahead on the basis of the report of the expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court, without awaiting the conclusion of the proceedings before the two other committees which were appointed by the NGT in the first place.

In view of the damage and destruction caused to the biodiversity of Dibru Saikhowa National Park and Boisphere Reserve due to a blow-out which took place from the Baghjan 5 Oil Well on May 27, 2020, the Supreme Court has directed the National Green Tribunal to effectuate expeditiously, the disbursement of the interim compensation within a period of two months.

"NGT is at liberty to issue appropriate directions for determining the modalities for the adjudication of final compensation and its disbursement, after taking due account of the interim compensation which has been fixed in that regard", a CJI Chandrachud led bench has ordered.

Notably, by the impugned order, the NGT had constituted three committees.

Initially, the grievance raised before the Top Court was that for the determination of damages and compensation and for the restoration of the National Park and Wetland, a ten-member Committee had been constituted headed by the Chief Secretary, Assam in which the Managing Director of the Oil India Limited had been inducted as a member.

It was submitted before Court that this was in breach of the principles of natural justice since the conduct of Oil India Limited was basically in issue and, hence, the Managing Director ought not to be a member of the Committee in any case.

The Top Court had accordingly reconstituted the Committee which was originally created by NGT and had directed the said Committee to make an interim determination of damages upon which suitable directions could be issued to Oil India Limited to deposit the amount for facilitating remedial measures.

The Supreme Court appointed Committee had then submitted its report dated 20 October 2021. A final report of the committee was submitted on 31 December 2021.

Noting that, the other two committees are yet to commence their work, Court has ordered thus,

" would be appropriate to remit the proceedings back to the NGT which shall take up the proceedings on the basis of the reports of the expert committee which was constituted by this Court. The reports of the expert committee shall be considered by the NGT. The NGT shall hear such objections as the parties in the proceedings have, before issuing necessary directions on the aspects including restoration of the environment, reparation of environmental damage and compensation."

The bench also comprising Justices V Ramasubramanian and JB Pardiwala has further ordered that the other two committees, which have been constituted by the NGT, shall proceed to complete the task which has been assigned to them.

"In terms of the earlier directions, it is clarified that the pendency of the proceedings before the NGT shall not affect the disbursement of interim compensation to the affected villagers. The NGT shall, it is clarified, be at liberty to pass further directions in regard to assessing the compensation payable and for its disbursement to all the affected persons", Court has said.

Case Title: Bonani Kakkar vs. Oil India Limited & Ors