What is National Green Tribunal?
The National Green Tribunal was established on October 18, 2010, under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, to resolve cases involving environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources, as well as enforcing any legal right relating to the environment and providing relief and compensation for damages to persons and property, as well as matters connected with or incidental to those cases.
It is a specialised body with the knowledge and experience needed to resolve environmental disputes involving a variety of disciplines.
Natural Justice Principles guide the tribunal, which is not bound by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
Environmental justice will be expedited by the Tribunal's dedicated environmental jurisdiction, which will help to reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
The Tribunal is required to decide on applications or appeals within six months of their filing and to make reasonable efforts to do so. To make it more accessible, the NGT will initially be located in five locations and operates on a circuit system.
The Tribunal's main office is in New Delhi, with four additional locations in Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai.
The NGT's Impact
The tribunal has original jurisdiction over "substantial environmental questions" (i.e., when a community as whole or public health as a whole is harmed) and "environmental damage caused by specific activity" (such as pollution).
In relation to an award, the tribunal's powers are comparable to those of a civil court, and the tribunal has the authority to refer any order or award to a civil court with local jurisdiction.
Additionally, the tribunal has appellate jurisdiction over several acts, including the Forest (Conservation) Act, the Biological Diversity Act, the Environment (Protection) Act, and the Water and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, following the establishment of the Tribunal and within 30 days of the award or order received by the aggrieved party.
The Green Tribunal has handed down a number of significant rulings on a wide range of issues that affect citizens across the country.
Yamuna Zone Of Conservation
The NGA stated on April 25, 2014, that the proposed recreational facilities on the Yamuna will have a negative impact on the river's health. In addition, the NGT recommended that the government designate a 52-kilometre stretch of the Yamuna in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh as a conservation zone.
Coal Blocks In The Chhattisgarh Forest
The National Green Tribunal overruled the statutory Forest Advisory Committee and revoked the Union Environment and Forests Minister's clearance for the Parsa East and Kante-Basan captive coal blocks located in Chhattisgarh's Hasdeo-Arand forests.
The blocks requiring 1989 hectares of forestland were located in an area previously designated by the government as a 'no-go' zone due to its value as a forest patch.
The order is likely to have a far-reaching effect, as the tribunal has determined that "The mere expression of fanciful reasons for environmental concerns that are unsupported by science, research, or prior experience does not qualify FAC's advice as that of an expert body.
The NGT is chaired by a retired Supreme Court judge and is headquartered in New Delhi.
Its first Chairman was appointed on 18 October 2010 by Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta.
The current chairman is retired justice Adarsh Kumar Goel.
The remaining judicial members are retired High Court Judges. Each bench of the NGT will consist of at least one judge and one expert.
Expert members should hold a professional degree and have a minimum of 15 years of experience working in the fields of environment/forest conservation and related subjects.