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Safeguards against chemical disasters in India

Date: 09 May 2020 Tags: Bills & Laws


A gas leak from LG Polymers factory situated on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh killed at least 11 people. The factory was to reopen after the lockdown, and the gas began leaking as workers were preparing to resume work.



 In the recent past, over 130 significant chemical accidents have been reported in the country, which have resulted in 259 deaths and caused major injuries to more than 560 people.



  • At the time of the Bhopal gas tragedy, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was the only relevant law specifying criminal liability for such incidents.

  • The CBI had initially charged the accused in the case under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

  • The charges were later framed under Section 304A, which deals with death due to negligence and imposes a maximum punishment of two years and a fine.

  • The charges were re-framed after a 1996 Supreme Court judgment held that there was no evidence to show that the accused had knowledge that such a gas leak would happen and kill people.

  • Soon after the tragedy, which had killed 2,000 people, the government passed a series of laws regulating the environment and prescribing and specifying safeguards and penalties. 

  • The Environment Protection Act, 1986, which gives powers to the central government to undertake measures for improving the environment and set standards and inspect industrial units.

  • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991, which is an insurance meant to provide relief to persons affected by accidents that occur while handling hazardous substances.

  • National Green Tribunal, 2010, provides for the establishment of a National Green Tribunal for effective and expeditious disposal of cases related to environmental protection and conservation of forests.

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