Topic: NGT orders closure of 69 industrial areas
Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment
National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to shut down all polluting industries in “critically polluted” and “severely polluted” areas within three months.
It also directed all States and Union Territories to furnish a report on the amount of biomedical waste generated and asked them to set up common treatment and disposal facilities, if not done yet.
- National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 to dispose of cases having environmental ramification.
- Its headed by retired judge of supreme court or being chief justice of high court and almost 20 experts and 20 judicial members.
- Recommend penalties and fine
- Recommend policies for environment protection
- Disposal of cases within 6 months
- Enforcement of any legal right relating to environment
- Giving relief and compensation for damages
- Has power of civil courts
- Helps reduce burden on higher courts
- Faster resolution of cases
- Specialised member brings efficiency to justice
- Less expensive than courts
- Fulfils constitutional provision like article 21 i.e. right to clean environment and article 48(a) i.e. protection of environment and safeguarding of forests
- The rapid pace of development is harming the environment. The NGT provides a check and balance for this.
- It takes suo – moto cases like banning the crackers, directing states to speed up action to clean Ganga.
The NGT deals with civil cases under the seven laws related to the environment:
- 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 and
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
Any violation pertaining to these laws or any decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT.
Strengths of NGT:
- Over the years NGT has emerged as a critical player in environmental regulation, passing strict orders on issues ranging from pollution to deforestation to waste management.
- NGT offers a path for the evolution of environmental jurisprudence by setting up an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
- It helps reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts on environmental matters.
- NGT is less formal, less expensive, and a faster way of resolving environment related disputes.
- It plays a crucial role in curbing environment-damaging activities.
- The Chairperson and members are not eligible for reappointment, hence they are likely to deliver judgements independently, without succumbing to pressure from any quarter.
- The NGT has been instrumental in ensuring that the Environment Impact Assessment process is strictly observed.
- Two important acts – Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 have been kept out of NGT’s jurisdiction. This restricts the jurisdiction area of NGT and at times hampers its functioning as crucial forest rights issue is linked directly to environment.
- The NGT decisions are being challenged in various High Courts under Article 226 (power of High Courts to issue certain writs) with many asserting the superiority of a High Court over the NGT, claiming ‘High Court is a constitutional body while NGT is a statutory body’.” This is one of the weaknesses of the Act as there is lack of clarity about what kind of decisions can be challenged; even though according to the NGT Act, its decision can be challenged before the Supreme Court.
- Decisions of NGT have also been criticised and challenged due to their repercussions on economic growth and development.
- The absence of a formula based mechanism in determining the compensation has also brought criticism to the tribunal.
- The decisions given by NGT are not fully complied by the stakeholders or the government. Sometimes its decisions are pointed out not to be feasible to implement within a given timeframe.
- The lack of human and financial resources has led to high pendency of cases – which undermines NGT’s very objective of disposal of appeals within 6 months.
- The justice delivery mechanism is also hindered by limited number of regional benches.
There is need for more autonomy and widen NGT’s scope for effective protection of environment in balance with human developmental activities.
The NGT deals with civil cases under the folllowing laws related to the environment:
a. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
b. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
c. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
d. All of the Above