Order of the Supreme Court of India regarding assessment of damage and destruction to the biodiversity due to blowout in Baghjan 5 oil well, Assam, 01/07/2021

Order of the Supreme Court of India in the matter of Bonani Kakkar Vs Oil India Limited & Others dated 01/07/2021.

The matter related to assessment of damage and destruction caused to the biodiversity of Dibru Saikhowa National Park and Biosphere Reserve due to the blowout which took place from Baghjan 5 Oil well on 27 May 2020.

A preliminary report was submitted on 24 July 2020 by a Committee appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and a progress report was thereafter filed on 31 October 2020. The NGT, February 19, 2021 then appointed three committees to assess damages and enquire into non-compliances.

The applicant (Bonani Kakkar) said that when an earlier committee had submitted a comprehensive report - constitution of three new committees would only delay the process.

Secondly, for the determination of damages and compensation and for the restoration of the National Park and Wetland, a ten-member Committee has been constituted headed by the Chief Secretary, Assam in which the Managing Director of the Oil India limited has been inducted as a member. It has been submitted that this would be in breach of the principles of natural justice since the conduct of Oil India Limited is basically in issue and, hence, the Managing Director ought not to be a member of the Committee in any case.

The SC stayed the NGT order of February 19, 2021 till the next date of listing.