National Green Tribunal (NGT) – Issues

Issues in NGT:
  • Since the inception of the NGT Act, the tribunal never functioned in its full capacity. According to the NGT Act, the tribunal should have 10 members in the Judicial and 10 members in the Expert capacity. At present, the NGT is functioning with three judicial and three expert members only. This is much less than the official requirement under the NGT Act.
  • It has failed to achieve the Right to a healthy environment as a part of the Right to Life under Article 21.
  • NGT has invoked the deadline associated with the technical clause and dismissed 11 petitions last year alone. This shows the inability of NGT to solve the cases in a time-bound manner.
  • Lack of expertise in the functioning of Tribunal. This is evident by the fact that many decisions of NGT have been challenged and overruled in the Supreme Court. For instance
    • The Supreme Court questioned the expertise of NGT in the case of the Subansiri Hydropower Project in Arunachal Pradesh 2019. Further, the court also overruled the ban imposed by NGT on that project.
  • The tribunal also failed to carry out the merits-based review and discharge of adjudicatory function. For example, In Mopa Airport Case, the apex court held that the NGT lacks merits-based review on its judgements.
  • Limited Regional Benches: The NGT is located only in big cities. But, environmental exploitation is majorly taking place in the tribal areas of dense forest. There is a limited opportunity for these people to come forward and file a case in NGT.
Write a critical note on the role of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in addressing the problem of environmental pollution and degradation in India. (200 Words)
National Green Tribunal was set up under National Green Tribunal Act,2010 with an aim to provide protection to environment, conservation of forests and other natural resources along with enforcement of legal rights for environment and giving relief and  compensation for damages to persons and property. Some of the main judgement of NGTs are:
  1. Banning any diesel vehicle of more than 10 years old in Delhi and NCR region.
  2. Penalizing the Construction companies in Bellandur wetland in Bangalore.
  3. Proposed plan for rejuvenating the Yamuna river for 52km stretch in Delhi and UP region.
  4. Cancelling clearance of CG coal mine, Vedanta and POSCO in Odisha.
  5. Sand mining order put a ban on all forms of Illegal River and Ocean bed sand mining which were rampant across the country are very important in sustainable development and environmental protection.
However despite various proactive support being taken by the tribunal the pollution levels has been continuously rising over the years. This is due to lack of effective support from government both at the centre as well in states. Inefficiency of Central and State pollution control boards is another reason for it. This often results in delays in  implementing the tribunal’s decision. Without adequate support from the government side NGT is unable to have a vigilance throughout the country due to its limited capacity and staff. Further despite solving a long number of cases still there is a long list of pending cases in the tribunal which adds to the problem. Lastly the tribunal is not having suo-moto powers which also restricts its ambit in the area of environment.
In the act there is a provision for appeal to tribunal within a period of 6 month of origin of cause of environmental problem. This is small time for reflection of negative impacts of environmental changes. This shall be increased to considerable time. There are also certain issues related to appointment of members and chairperson. It has come under attack with pro-corporate bodies for hindering the development project with its activism and government is considering to dilute its provisions but it will be against the spirit of constitution and sustainable development.
Citing the increasing pollution levels in the country having a adverse impact on health the role of NGT gains more importance. The Central and State government should work in collaboration with NGT to secure the environment with better, faster enforcement of NGT orders

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