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Nature's Narrative Vol. 1(3)

News Snippets (Part 3):

Indian Disasters Update

Brahmaputra Floods

The water of Brahmaputra has flooded Assam this year, coinciding with the Coronavirus pandemic. The flood has proven to be destructive not just for the humans but animals too. The Kaziranga National park is badly affected with 85% area submerged and according to the Forest department report, a total of 108 animals have died in this flood season and 125 animals have been rescued. Kaziranga National Park authority stated that108 wild animals, including nine rhinos, have died in the national park during the floods.

Neyveli Leak

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) submitted its report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) July 6 on the unfortunate boiler blast incident that took place on 1st July at Neyveli Lignite Corporation India Ltd (NLCIL), Thermal Power Station-II, Cuddalore district. 6 workers were killed and another 17 were injured due to the blast. This was the second accident at the power station in less than two months.

Historical Overview

This incident adds to the string of industrial accidents in India after the Covid-19 lockdown . At least four industrial incidents have taken place since May 2020, two in Neyveli and two in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. India's historically weak workplace safety record has hit a new low after these recent incidents.

Current Status

According to the NLCIL sources, “Unit V shut down after it tripped. The workers and engineering staff were attempting to revive it when a fire broke out in the boiler, resulting in the explosion.” NLC India Ltd officials reported that removal of lignite dust from the horizontal girder was done using metal scrappers, and the lignite particles were ignited due to friction, which might have caused the blast.

Legal Background

A provisional penalty of five crores on NLC India Ltd was imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). In compliance with the term "absolute responsibility," the industrial company is responsible to pay temporary compensation,' the bench further stated. This incident again proves the need for stricter implementation of laws and accedes to the principle laid down in the landmark case of MC Mehta v. UOI.

Sainor Leaks

Status report was filed by the district collector of Vishakapatnam district, on leakage of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) vapors at Sainor Life Sciences Pvt Ltd, JN Pharma City, Thanam village, Parawada Mandal on June 29. The benzimidazole gas, which was not much of a danger than styrene, has not spread anywhere.

Historical Overview

A similar incident took place at the same unit on September 28, 2015, in which two persons were killed and four were injured. Incidentally, there have been 25 serious industrial accidents in Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City since 2013, killing 23 and seriously injuring 73.

Current Situation

Late in the night on June 29, 2020, two people died, while four were injured, in a Gas Leak occurred on a Sainor Life Sciences Pvt Ltd plant in Visakhapatnam. Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), which are used in the manufacture of medicines, are produced by the company.

The accident occurred during the shift of Omeprazol (mother liquor) from the centrifuge to the reactor, according to the Visakhapatnam, Deputy Chief Inspector at Facilities. The liquid that remains after the crystallization of a substance is mother liquor. This caused Benzimidazole gas leakage.

Legal Background

During the Oluem leak decision in 1986, the Supreme Court ruled that strict responsibility to protect people was unsatisfactory. It has now been replaced by absolute liability. The Supreme Court held that an enterprise that operates a hazardous industry cannot claim any exemption under the absolutely liability principle. The company must pay compensation obligatorily. It doesn't matter if the accident was a result of negligence.

The principle of "absolute liability" is considered as part of article 21 (right to life).

Indian Climate Change Scenario

The first ‘Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region was released by the Ministry of Earth Sciences. The projections, based on modelling, were conducted by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

Historical Overview

This is India’s first comprehensive climate change report and its findings aren’t satisfactory.

Key Highlights of the assessment

· Surface air temperature over India has risen by 0.6°C per year during 1901-2018.

· The sea level over the North Indian Ocean (Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal) rose by 3.3 mm per year, which is in tune with the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) rise during 1993-2015.

· By the end of this century, the average surface air temperature is projected to increase to 4.4 C, if the global carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced to some extent. Even if emissions decrease in India, in the next few decades, by 2070 to 2099, the average temperature will still rise by 2.4 C.

· The 2018 UN study reported that the global rise in temperature should remain 1.5 degree. The environmental effect of an exponentially higher by 2 C is greater than one by 1.5 C.

· It has also cautioned that the dynamic climate changes present threats to infrastructure, public health and the environment, which could hamper attempts to meet growth and development targets.

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