The Supreme Court on Saturday stayed a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order directing roll-out of compensation to the families or heirs of the victims of the tragic Rourkela Steel Plant toxic gas leak mishap.
Notices were issued to the Central Pollution Control Board, Odisha State Pollution Control Board, Department of Factories and Boilers of Odisha and others by a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah.
"Issue notice. In the meanwhile, stay of the operation of the judgment and final order dated February 11, 2021 of the National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi. The dependants of the workers, who died on January 6, 2021 shall continue in employment till further orders," the bench said.
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by Rourkela Steel plant against an NGT order which took cognisance of a media report about gas leak in the plant and directed payment of compensation to the families or heirs of people who died in the gas leakage.
The tribunal also constituted an expert committee for the purpose of suggesting safety measures to be taken by the industries.
Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Goradia Divan submitted that the National Green Tribunal has no jurisdiction to take up the matter suo moto and this point is pending consideration in two appeals before this court.
She further submitted that the dependants of three out of four workers who died on January 6, 2021 have been given compassionate appointments.
The NGT had directed the constitution of an expert committee comprising the Ministry of Environment, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and the Odisha Pollution Control Board (PCB) to look into the matter of suspected toxic gas leak in Rourkela Steel Plant on January 6.
The bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel in an order passed on February 11 had said that the committee may co-opt two other industrial safety experts.
At least four workers died and a few others fell ill after inhaling a toxic gas leaked from a unit at Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) of the state-run SAIL in Odisha, official sources had said.
The mishap took place at the Coal Chemical Department of the RSP in the morning, when a total of 10 workers were on duty.
(With PTI Inputs)