National Green Tribunal

National Green Tribunal

The National Green Tribunal has been set up on 18.10.2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources covering enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It is a specialized body equipped with the mandate expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be headed by principles of natural justice.

The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental issues shall give speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts. The Tribunal is necessary to make an endeavor for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of the filing of the same. From starting, the NGT is proposed to be established at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible. New Delhi is the major Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of the Tribunal.

Notable orders

Yamuna Conservation Zone

On 25 April 2014, the NGT said that the health of Yamuna will be affected by the proposed recreational facilities on the river. The NGT also said the Government to declare a 52 km stretch of the Yamuna in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh as a conservation zone.

Coal Blocks in Chhattisgarh Forests

The National Green Tribunal has voided the clearance given by the then Union Environment and Forests Minister, Jairam Ramesh, to the Parsa East and Kante-Basan captive coal blocks in the Hasdeo-Arand forests of Chhattisgarh, overruling the statutory Forest Advisory Committee.

The forest clearance was provided by Mr. Ramesh in June 2011, overriding the advice of the Ministry’s expert panel on the two blocks for mining by a joint venture between Adani and Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited. The blocks needing 1,989 hectares of forestland fell in an area that the government had initially barred as it was considered a patch of valuable forest and demarcated as a ‘no-go’ area.

The order is bound to have a more far-reaching impact, with the tribunal holding that “mere expression of fanciful reasons concerning to environmental concerns without any basis, scientific study or past experience would not render the advice of FAC — a body of experts — inconsequential. In the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, the FAC is needed to appraise projects that require forestlands and advise the Environment Ministry to grant approval or reject the proposals.

But in this case, the National Green Tribunal noted, the Minister had taken all of one day and relied upon his “understanding and belief” without any “basis either in any authoritative study or experience in the relevant fields.” The Minister, while clearing the coal blocks, had given six reasons for doing so, also covering that the coal blocks are linked to the super-critical thermal power plant, which is imperative to sustain the momentum generated in the XI Plan for increasing power production. These ‘anthropocentric’ considerations, the NGT held, were invalid to evaluate the project.

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