Environment is an important factor and should be safeguarded; it is the duty of the state to protect the forest and wildlife of our country. The increase in the number of industries and the poisonous effluents emitted by them led to the degradation of the environment. In 2010, the government took action and enacted The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act which led to the creation of a special green tribunal which would be in charge of handling the cases which are related to the environment. This was also inspired by Article 21 which guarantees a healthy and clean environment for the citizens of India. This was a powerful initiative by the government, and has been successfully implemented and a strict penalty is imposed if the orders of the tribunal are disregarded.
The important objectives of the National Green Tribunal are that-
1) The method of disposal of cases related to environment protection and the protection of natural resources is speedy.
2) The main aim is to legally enforce the rights which are related to the environment.
3) This also accounts in providing justice as well as compensation to the people who are affected in the cases of damage caused.
JURISDICTION AND POWERS-
The national green tribunal possesses the power to hear all the civil cases which are related to environment and are linked to the implementation of the laws listed in schedule I of the Act.
1) The Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974
2) The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977
3) The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
4) The Air (Prevention and control of Pollution) Act, 1981
5) The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
6) The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
7) The Biological Diversity Act, 2002
This is a body which specialises in handling the disputes which are elated to the environment and other multi- disciplinary issues as well.
1) The Code of Civil Procedure shall not bind the tribunal as it is guided by the principles of natural justice.
2) The tribunal provides for speedy trials of the matters related to environment and these help in reducing the cases which are pending in the higher courts of law.
3) The tribunal is mandated to dispose off any environment related issues within 6 months of the filing of the respective complaint.
4) The tribunal need not necessarily follow what is provided under the Civil Procedure Code but it can regulate the procedure and also apply certain principles of natural justice.
5) The application of principles of sustainable development is applied while awarding the amount of compensation or to give orders.
6) This is not bound by the rules which are mentioned in The Evidence Act, 1872.
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 as well as the Schedule Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. The following two acts are out of the jurisdiction which is exercised by the tribunal. This hampers the functioning of the National Green Tribunal as well as the forest and wildlife which are directly connected to the environment. Another one of the weaknesses of the act is that any decision which is given by the tribunal can be challenged in high court under article 226, this is through which writs are issued which asserts the superiority of the High Court. Some of the decisions of the National Green Tribunal have been criticised due to its clash with economic development and growth.
There exists no formula for the calculation of compensation claimed. Lack of financial resources has led to the pendency of various cases within the tribunal and due to which it is not able to dispose of cases within the span of 6 months. Only a limited number of benches exist which cause hindrance in the justice delivery mechanism.
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