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National Green Tribunal- Role and significance

National Green Tribunal- Role and significance

In the post industrialization era, rapid development of economic activities led to widespread negligence of environmental concerns. With massive change in climate factors and depletion of resources, world is rising now to the challenge of protecting the nature in order to sustain itself.

National green tribunal is a step towards protecting our environmental concerns and promoting sustainable development.

Origin

In June 1992, during the Rio de Janeiro summit of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, India pledged to provide judicial and administrative remedies for the victims of the pollutants and other environmental damage.

This paved the way for National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 which was enforced for the creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.

It draws inspiration from the India's constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.

The National Green Tribunal has been established on 18.10.2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.

Scope and Objective

National Green Tribunal is a specialized body having the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.

The major objectives of the tribunal are listed below:

  • To provide effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection
  • To facilitate enforcement of any legal right relating to environment
  • To provide giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • To make environmental justices accessible

Role and Significance

The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act. These include the following:

  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
  • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

The NGT is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.

The significance of a separate tribunal lies in its role to facilitate sustainable development. NGT is responsible for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same. As per the Government data, since inception (till 31.10.2017), the tribunal has made disposal of 20,696 cases.

Composition

The sanctioned strength of the tribunal is currently 10 expert members and 10 judicial members although the act allows for up to 20 of each. The Chairman of the tribunal who is the administrative head of the tribunal also serves as a judicial member. The Chairman of the tribunal is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Courtor a judge of the Supreme Court of India.

Every bench of tribunal must consist of at least one expert member and one judicial member. New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of the Tribunal.

The Other Side of it

In order to increase its powers and relevance towards the set objectives, National green Tribunal needs to remove some of its loopholes. With currently operating through 5 benches, the reach of the tribunal is still limited. Since the civil courts can’t admit cases related environment now, it is difficult to approach tribunal running far from one’s native place.

Also, the government needs to ensure its credibility as an independent entity.

Summing Up

No doubt, setting up the National Green Tribunal has been a welcome move however, its scope and reach needs to be monitored and revised accordingly to realize its potential and thus ensure the objective of environmental conservation.

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