Make an assessment of five years of National Green Tribunal performance putting major decisions and cases in light? Also comment on the apparent conflicts between NGT's green activism and development agenda of successive governments.
National Green Tribunal is a statutory body for speedy disposal of cases related to environmental protection and conservation.
Since the tribunal follows the principle of natural justice & it is not bound by Code of Civil Procedure.
NGT has emerged as a critical player in environmental regulation, passing strict orders on issues ranging from pollution to deforestation to waste management. For example in POSCO Case NGT gave the decision in favor of the local tribals to support sustainable development. In Goa Foundation Case tribunal banned all forms of illegal sand mining to protect western ghat. Similarly, NGT also banned construction in Sundarbans. In order to ensure air quality NGT banned old diesel vehicles in Delhi. NGT also fined Art of Living Foundation for damage to Yamuna floodplains on the grounds of “Polluter pay principle”.
However such decisions to protect environment sometimes are in conflict with development agenda of the government as environmental clearances are a bottleneck in the ease of doing business. In a move that will hamper the autonomy of the NGT government modified the process of appointment to the tribunal. Now the condition that NGT can only be headed by a former Supreme Court judge or the chief justice of a high court is no longer required and it also takes away the judiciary’s control on the process to appoint the Tribunal’s members. There is also delay in filling vacant posts of judicial and expert members in the tribunal.
The need of the hour is to have an independent body who can take decisions for long term sustainability by balancing short term economic goals.