India: National Green Tribunal Imposes A Penalty Of INR 100 Crores On The Delta Group

Last Updated: 11 October 2016
Article by Lucy Rana
Most Read Contributor in India, September 2018

In India, various environmental laws have been enacted for the purpose of protection and conservation of environment which is a trending global concern. Therefore, environment, in India, is regulated by these statutory laws as well as common law practices and principles. One such principle is the Polluter's Pay Principle which is extensively discussed in the present case.

The slogan "If you make a mess, it's your duty to clean up" is extremely appropriate for this Principle. In the earlier times pollution was not a concern. The release of gases or waste into the air and water was considered legal. Water and air were used as "sinks" and it was thought that neither air nor water was a limited resource and therefore, their use was free to all. However, when the side effects of pollution were felt, the apprehension for injury to the environment, human health, and property began. Pollution became a widespread anxiety and scientists were in the vanguard of those who were looking for solutions. The first real allusion to Polluter's Pay Principle was in the OECD Guiding Principles Concerning International Economic Aspects of Environmental Policies recommendation of 26th May 1972.

Here, the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal, a special tribunal established in 2010 to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues, at New Delhi has ordered the Delta Group (including its Panama based holding company & 2 Qatar based subsidiaries) to pay compensation for the Oil Spill caused by Ship "M.V. Rak" around 20 Nautical Miles (1 Nautical Mile=1.852 Km) from the Indian Coast Line in August, 2011. The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as "NGT") in Samir Mehta v. Union of India (O.A. No. 24 of 2011) vide its order dated August 23, 2016 ordered the Delta Group to pay a compensation of INR 100 Crores and also ordered Adani Enterprises Limited (hereinafter referred to as "Adani") to pay INR 5 Crores as compensation for dumping of the cargo in the sea and then failing to take any precautionary or preventive measures.

A.Brief Background

The Ship, M.V. Rak's (hereinafter referred to as "The Ship") voyage started on June 14, 2011 from Lubuk Tutung, Indonesia with its destination being Dahej, Gujarat. The Ship had been chartered by Adani to carry 60054 MT of coal for use at its thermal power plant at Dahej, Gujarat, and was also carrying 290 tonnes of fuel oil and 50 tonnes of diesel. During the course of its voyage, the Ship sank approximately 20 Nautical Miles from the coast of South Mumbai on August 4, 2011 due to heavy flooding. The sinking of the Ship resulted in an oil spill with the impact of the oil spill be clearly noticed and visible on the mangroves of Mumbai with the lower portion of mangroves at Bandra turning dark because of a layer of oil and getting destroyed. Further, the NGT observed that the 60054 MT of coal which was being chartered by the Ship was still lying on the sea bed and was a continuous source of pollution. The NGT noted that Adani had taken no steps either to lift the coal or take any preventive steps to stop the pollution from the coal. In view of the pollution, an application was filed under Sections 14 and 15 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 (hereinafter referred to as "2010 Act") before the NGT asking for the imposition of penalties.

B.Judgment of the NGT

The NGT in its judgment made the following observations and issued the following directions:

  1. The NGT observed that on the true and purposive construction of the International Conventions and the statutory provisions that had been implemented under Indian Law, no party from any country in the world has the right/privilege to sail an unseaworthy ship to the Contiguous and Exclusive Economic Zone of India and in any event to dump the same in such waters, causing marine pollution, damage or degradation thereof.
  2. The NGT directed the constitution of a Committee which is responsible to carry out a study on whether the removal of the ship wreck and cargo from the present location should be directed, whether it was necessary to leave the wreck of the ship and/or it is not practically possible to remove the wreck of the ship and the cargo. The Committee was directed to present the report of the study before the NGT within one month. Further, the Committee was empowered to issue directions in regards of what compensation should be paid by the Delta Group and Adani at regular intervals for preventing and controlling the pollution.
  3. The NGT held that the liabilities to pay environmental compensation as directed are on account of and subject to adjustments, after the submission of the final report by the Committee.
  4. The NGT directed the Delta Group and Adani to remove the Ship and its cargo or they should cause the Ship and its cargo to be removed within a period of six months from the date of submission of the Committee's Report before the NGT.
  5. The NGT held the Delta Group was liable for causing marine environmental pollution by sinking of the ship in the Contiguous Zone of Indian waters and directed the Delta Group to pay environmental compensation of INR 100 Crores to the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India in terms of Sections 15 and 17 read with Sections 14 and 20 of the 2010 Act.
  6. The NGT held that the amount of INR 100 Crores would include the expenses incurred by the Coast Guard and other forces for the prevention and mitigation of pollution in different ways caused by the oil spill and saving the crew onboard the Ship, etc. and a sum of INR 6,91,84,405/- shall be adjusted and paid to the respective agencies.
  7. Adani was held liable to pay a sum of INR 5 crores as environmental compensation in terms of Sections 15 and 17 read with Sections 14 and 20 of the 2010 Act for dumping 60054 MT Coal in the seabed and causing pollution of marine environment and for their failure in taking steps to pick the coal that had been left due to the sinking of the Ship.

C.Take Away

The sinking of the Ship had raised pertinent questions relating to pollution caused by the sinking of Ship and oil spill in the Territorial Water, Contiguous Zone and Exclusive Economic Zone of India , whether the NGT had the jurisdiction to entertain the application and what liabilities could be fixed. This judgment of the NGT holding the Delta Group and Adani liable for the pollution caused by the sinking of the Ship is likely to have significant implications on the powers of the National Green Tribunal and the applicability of its orders in international law.

It is pertinent to note that appeals against this decision of the NGT lies with the Supreme Court. However, no such appeals appears to be filed yet.

We shall update our readers in case of further developments.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Lucy Rana
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions