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Current Affairs


Date : Nov 29, 2021

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Based on a News Article published in the ‘The Hindu’ on 29th November 2021 on Page Number 10


Useful for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains (GS Paper I & II)



What is the purpose of the National Green Tribunal (NGT):


  • It is a specialised body established under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for the effective and timely resolution of matters involving environmental protection and forest and other natural resource conservation.

  • India became the third country in the world, after Australia and New Zealand, to establish a specialised environmental tribunal, and the first developing country to do so with the founding of the NGT.

  • The NGT is required to issue a final decision on petitions or appeals within six months of their submission.

  • The NGT has five sitting locations: New Delhi is the principal location, followed by Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai.





NGT's structure:


  • The Chairperson, Judicial Members, and Expert Members make up the Tribunal. They are appointed for a five-year term and are not eligible for re-appointment.

  • The Central Government, in collaboration with the Chief Justice of India, appoints the Chairperson (CJI).

  • The national government will appoint a Selection Committee to appoint the Judicial and Expert Members.

  • The tribunal must have at least 10 and no more than 20 full-time judicial and expert members.


Jurisdiction & Powers:


  • The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil proceedings involving significant environmental issues (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment).

  • Apart from original jurisdiction on the filing of an application, as a statutory adjudicatory body, the NGT also possesses appellate jurisdiction to hear appeals as a Court (Tribunal).

  • The Tribunal is not bound by the Code of Civil Procedure of 1908, but will be influenced by notions of 'natural justice.'

  • It must adopt the principles of sustainable development, precautionary principle, and polluter pays principle when giving any order/decision/award.

  • By order, the NGT can provide relief and compensation to victims of pollution and other environmental damage (including accidents occurring while handling any hazardous substance), for restitution of property damaged, and for environmental restitution for such area or areas as the Tribunal deems appropriate.

  • A Tribunal order, judgement, or award can be enforced as a civil court decree.

  • The NGT Act also specifies the following penalties for noncompliance: imprisonment for a period of up to three years, a fine of up to ten crore rupees, or both fine and jail.

  • The Supreme Court hears appeals from the NGT's orders, decisions, and awards within ninety days after the date of communication.

  • 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, 1991, and The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 are the seven environmental laws that the NGT deals with.

  • Any breach of these rules, as well as any government decision made under these laws, can be contested in front of the NGT.


NGT's advantages:


  • Over the years, the NGT has established itself as a key player in environmental control, issuing tough rulings on topics like as pollution, deforestation, and waste management.

  • By establishing an alternative dispute resolution system, the NGT paves the way for the evolution of environmental law.

  • It aids in reducing the cost of environmental litigation in higher courts.

  • The NGT is a less formal, less expensive, and quicker method of settling environmental issues.

  • It is critical in reducing harmful actions to the environment.

  • Because the Chairperson and members are not available for reappointment, they are more likely to make decisions on their own, without yielding to outside pressure.

  • The NGT has played a key role in ensuring that the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure is followed to the letter.




  • The NGT does not have jurisdiction over two major acts: the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act of 2006. This limits the NGT's authority and, at times, makes it difficult for it to function, as the fundamental issue of forest rights is inextricably related to the environment.

  • The NGT's judgements are being challenged in various High Courts under Article 226 (authority of High Courts to issue certain writs), with many alleging that the High Court is superior to the NGT, claiming that "the High Court is a constitutional body while the NGT is a statutory body." One of the Act's flaws is that it is unclear what kind of rulings can be appealed, despite the fact that the NGT's decisions can be appealed to the Supreme Court under the NGT Act.

  • Because of their implications for economic growth and development, NGT decisions have been criticised and questioned.

  • The tribunal has also been chastised for the lack of a formula-based system for assessing compensation.

  • The stakeholders and the government do not fully implement the NGT's decisions. Its decisions are occasionally cited as being impractical to implement within a specified timeframe.

  • Due to a shortage of personnel and financial resources, many cases are still pending, undermining the NGT's stated goal of resolving appeals within six months.

  • The small number of regional benches also impedes the delivery of justice.


NGT's Significant Landmark Decisions:


  • POSCO, a steelmaker, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Odisha government in 2012 to establish a steel plant. The NGT suspended the order, which was seen as a bold move in favour of the local community and woods.

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ruled in Almitra H. Patel vs. Union of India in 2012, prohibiting open burning of rubbish on lands, including landfills - widely regarded as India's single most important landmark decision on solid waste management.

  • The Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd. was compelled to compensate the petitioner in the Uttarakhand floods case in 2013 - the NGT directly relied on the principle of 'polluter pays' in this case.

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ruled in 2015 that all diesel vehicles older than ten years will be prohibited from operating in Delhi-NCR.

  • The NGT panel levied a penalty of Rs. 5 crore in 2017 after the Art of Living Festival on the Yamuna Food Plain was found to be in violation of environmental regulations.

  • In 2017, the NGT issued an interim ban in Delhi on plastic bags with a thickness of less than 50 microns because "they were causing animal fatalities, blocking sewers, and damaging the environment."




  • More autonomy and a broader scope for the NGT are required for successful environmental protection that is compatible with human development.


Tags : tribunal, NGT, civil court

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