NGT deserves more attention


National Green Tribunal (NGT) was established on 18th October 2010 under the NGT Act of 2010 as a specialized body for handling any environmental disputes that involve multi-disciplinary issues. It also draws inspiration from Article 21 of the India Constitution which assures to provide a healthy environment to the citizens of India. Set up for the expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection, conservation of forests and other natural resources, the green tribunal has established itself as a strong pillar. With its landmark rulings and imposition of severe penalties, it has acquired a reputation of seeking to change the face of environmental jurisprudence by providing access to justice for all. For those unaccustomed to being questioned, the NGT's interventions have forced environmental responsibility and raised awareness. The arbitrary approval of projects, without undertaking proper environmental and social-impact assessments, is now a rarity. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) must seize the opportunity provided by the Supreme Court ruling that upholds the validity of the 2010 legislation, which empowers the Centre to establish the tribunal.
The environmental court deserves more attention by way of administrative support, along with financial and human resources, to bolster its efficiency and effectiveness. Enforcement of orders can become a casualty in the absence of adequate backup and synergy with the local authorities, defeating the purpose of sending a clear signal to the industry and government machinery that safeguarding the environment is not optional. For all the progress made during the past decade, the tribunal does face criticism of overreach and a penchant for sensationalism while ignoring ground realities. While much of it can safely be attributed to the vested interests which once enjoyed a free run and now face action, insisting on detailed research by specialists can be standardised, along with a more nuanced scientific estimation of environmental damage and compensation. For the NGT, self-assessment can go a long way in building on the lessons learnt during its brief but eventful journey. What also needs to be addressed are issues such as the environmental finesse of the NGT teams, having more branches in states and UTs if required.

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