This article on ‘National Green Tribunal Act, 2010: All you need to know‘ was written by Monika Yadav, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
In this article, we will discuss the National Green Tribunal. We will be seeing the structure, functioning, and powers of the NGT, who can file an application to the Tribunal as well as the challenges amid the smooth functioning of the NGT. In the end, we discuss certain matters decided by the NGT.
What is NGT?
The National Green Tribunal Act of 2010 has been set up under the National Green Tribunal Bill of 2009 as a specialised organisation for the disposal of environmental protection and the preservation of forests & various natural resources matters effectively and quickly. India becomes the first developing nation and the third in the world (after Australia and New Zealand) to develop a special tribunal for environmental-related issues.
Within six months after the application or appeal’s submission, the NGT is required to render a final decision.
The NGT has four zonal benches and its headquarter is in New Delhi, with the other four locations being Bhopal (central zone bench), Pune (western zone bench), Kolkata (eastern zone bench), and Chennai (southern zone bench).
Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the current NGT chairman. The judgment of the NGT can be challenged before the Apex Court within a duration of 90 days.
The main objectives behind the establishment of the National Green Tribunal are as elaborated:
- Nature, wood, and other environmental assets should be preserved and protected, and these issues should be dealt with immediately and promptly.
- Offer support and compensation for any harm caused to persons or property.
- Help to resolve numerous transdisciplinary environment conflicts.
Structure of NGT
The Chairperson, Judicial Members, and Expert Members make up the Tribunal. They cannot be reappointed and must serve for three years or until they reach the age of 65, whichever comes first.
In conjunction with the Chief Justice of India, the Central Government appoints the Chairperson (CJI). The federal government will establish a selection committee to choose the legal members including experts. The tribunal can have a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 full-time judges and experts.
Jurisdiction and Powers
- The Tribunal may consider all civil cases involving important environmental issues.
- In October 2021, the Court concluded that the NGT had the authority to address environmental matters nationwide as a “unique” forum with suo moto authority.
- According to SC, the NGT’s job is not just adjudicatory; it must also carry out equally important preventative, ameliorative, or remedial roles.
- As a statutory judicial authority like Courts, NGT has appellate authority to hear appeals in addition to initial jurisdiction based on the application’s filing (Tribunal).
- The CPC,1908 doesn’t bind upon the Tribunal; instead, it will be guided by the notions of “natural justice.”
- While making any decisions or giving out any rewards, the ideas of environmental sustainability, prudence, and polluter pays all need to be taken into account.
- In accordance with the Tribunal’s discretion, the NGT may issue an order to provide relief and restitution for individuals who endured environmental degradation caused by pollution and other factors (including accidents involving the handling of hazardous substances), as well as to restore the damaged property and the surrounding environment.
- A tribunal’s order, decision, or award may be carried out as a civil court’s decree.
- A system of sanctions for non-compliance is also outlined in the NGT Act, which includes imprisonment for 3 years and a maximum fine of 10 crore rupees, or both.
- Within ninety days of the date of communication, a person may appeal an NGT order, decision, or award to the Supreme Court.
- The NGT handles civil claims arising from the seven environmental statutes, which include:
- 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, of 1991 and
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
- Any infraction of such laws or any action implemented by the government following them may be contested before the NGT.
Who is able to submit the application?
Any party who has been designated as a victim due to the reasons for environmental pollution or engaging with some other environmental issues or hazardous status is given a remedy under the act.
The court may receive applications from the following parties:
- anyone who has been hurt as a result of this law.
- any surviving family member or juridical representative of the dead whose cause of death was associated with the environment.
- any agent acting on behalf of a deceased but resentful party.
- any person who feels wronged, including a group or organisation that represents them.
Challenges in the smooth functioning of NGT
- The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act of 2006 are the pertinent laws that fall beyond the purview of the NGT. Due to the important forest rights issue being closely related to the environment, this limits the NGT’s authority and occasionally interferes with its ability to function.
- Many states that an HC acts as a superior authority to the NGT as it is a “constitutional body and NGT is a statutory authority,” the NGT judgments were contested within several HCs as per Article 226. Although the NGT Act states that a decision may be appealed to the Apex Court, this is among the Act’s shortcomings because it is unclear what decisions may be challenged.
- Effects on financial growth and advancement, NGT decisions have also drawn criticism and challenges.
- The tribunal has also come under fire for not using a formula-based process to determine the compensation.
- Neither the government nor the stakeholders fully comply with the NGT’s rulings. Its choices are occasionally pointed out as being impractical to accomplish within a specified timeframe.
- The NGT’s stated goal of disposing of appeals within six months has been undermined by the huge case backlog caused by a shortage of human & economic resources.
- The insufficient number of local benches also interferes with the delivery of justice.
Matters concluded by NGT
- An MoU was signed by the Odisha government and the South Korean steelmaker POSCO in 2012 for setting up a steel project.
The NGT postponed this law which was termed a bold move by the tribunal.
- The most significant case about solid waste management in India is the (2012) Almitra H. Patel vs. Union of India case, in which the NGT issued a ruling completely forbidding the open burning of rubbish on lands, including landfills.
- Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd. has been made to compensate the petitioner in the Uttarakhand floods case in 2013; in this case, the NGT directly cited the “polluter pays” principle.
- The National Green Tribunal (2013) stopped a $6,400 crore hydro project to save a bird’s habitat in the Save Mon Federation v. Union of India case.
- All diesel vehicles older than ten years will no longer be allowed to operate in Delhi-NCR, the NGT ruled in 2015.
- The NGT invalidated an EIA 2006 notification amendment from December 2016 because it was deemed to be a “ploy” (by the government) to get around the regulations. The amendments essentially aimed to grant local authorities the authority for authorisation of environment-clearance certificates.
Many projects, including the Aranmula Airport in Kerala, the Lower Demwe Hydro Power Project, Nyamnjangu in Arunachal Pradesh, mining projects in Goa, and coal mining productions in Chhattisgarh, cancel for contravention of the law.
- The Yamuna Food Plain’s Art of Living Festival was found to have violated environmental standards in 2017, and the NGT panel charged a fine of Rs. 5 crores.
- The NGT issued a temporary prohibition on polyethene bags in Delhi in 2017 that were less than 50 microns thick because “they were killing animals, clogging sewers, and damaging the environment.”
- Braj Foundation v. Govt. of UP
The govt. has to create a memorandum of agreement for the forest cover of Vrindavan, according to this Braj Foundation case. The government says the advertisement published has acted as an invitation to treat and can’t be viewed as a contract. However, the panel instructed the government as it had a responsibility to encourage afforestation. One important goal is regarding the 100-meter belt on either side of braj parikrama.
- Union of India v. Jeet Singh Kanwar
The petitioners in this action contest the environmental approval that was required for the construction of the coal-fired power station. Lastly, it had discovered as the project concerned can be continued if the environmental clearance didn’t lead to a huge amount of environmental destruction. However, the panel also made a ruling that the environmental clearance was unlawful because of its effects.
- Union of India v. Vardaman Kaushik
In this matter, the tribunal noticed the expanding population in Delhi and ordered the creation of an action plan as well as the prohibition of burning plastic and driving automobiles older than ten years.
A fine of Rs. 1000 had been imposed upon parked cars on metal-sand paths as part of the implementation of numerous cycle tracks and forces have been set up to keep an eye on moving vehicles. It was also suggested that multi-level parking be built in appropriate locations.
Understandably, the National Green Tribunal is crucial in cases involving board environmental issues. It is an instrument for exchanging information and promoting more significant environmental development. When issues relating to water, air, land, etc. have arisen on which varied judgments must be rendered, there is a tremendous need to understand conflict.
However, it is a benefit because national green tribunals encourage attorneys to focus on environmental law, and the tribunal is consequently seen as a crucial part of delivering justice in environmental-related cases. There will come a moment when the environment will receive the most attention through the legal system.
- “National Green Tribunal (NGT)”, Drishti IAS, 11 December 2018, available at: https://www.drishtiias.com/important-institutions/drishti-specials-important-institutions-national-institutions/national-green-tribunal-ngt
- “National Green Tribunal (NGT) – UPSC Notes”, Byjus, available at: https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/concepts-in-news-national-green-tribunal/
- Yash Arya, “National Green Tribunal Act-2010”, Academia, available at: https://www.academia.edu/29747037/National_Green_Tribunal_Act_2010
- Praveen Bhargav, “Everything you need to know about the National Green Tribunal (NGT)”, Conservation India, available at: https://www.conservationindia.org/resources/ngt