Rejecting the contention of GVK Group firm Alaknanda Hydro Power in 2013 uttrakhand Cloudburst tragedy as “act of god,”the NGT has asked the company to pay Rs. 9.26 crore as compensation to the victims of the disaster. The flood and cloudburst in Uttrakhand in 2013 had resulted in a death toll of at least 10,000 people.
The National Green Tribunal categorically held the Alaknanda company liable for the lack of proper care in storing muck from a construction project because of which the material flowed during the flood. The company has been directed to deposit Rs. 9,26,42,795 within 30 days as a compensation with the Emergency Relief Fund Authority, for the victims of the disaster.
“An act of god provides no excuse unless it is so unexpected that no reasonable human foresight could be presumed to anticipate the occurrence, having regard to the conditions of time and place known to be prevailing….We, therefore, reject the plea of the respondent no. 1 that the damage caused to the residential area was the result of ‘Act of God’,” a bench headed by Justice U D Salvi said.
However, The District Magistrate of Pauri will distribute the amount after verifying the claims of which one percent of the amount will be remitted to the Registrar of the NGT under the provisions of the 2011 National Green Tribunal Rules.
“The human habitation was affected due to the silt and the muck. Going by the geochemical analysis, the muck that was found was about 30 per cent. This certainly is a footprint of the involvement of the respondent no 1 (company) in the occurrence resulting in damage caused,” the bench said.
“Having regard to these known conditions, human foresight could have reasonably anticipated that laxity in taking timely protective measures such as slope dressing, terracing, toe walls covering the top soil at the permanent muck disposal sites would prove disastrous to the environment, particularly to the human beings who are the components of environment,” the bench, which also comprised expert member A R Yousuf, said.
The large quantity of muck which is generated from the construction had been inappropriately dumped just after the gates of the dams by the Alaknanda Hydro Power Ltd, the petitioners claimed.