NGT and associated challenges

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Synopsis- The National Green Tribunal(NGT) instead of protecting the environment is facing trouble due to internal issues within the NGT.


The National Green Tribunal(NGT) is a dedicated tribunal to deal with matters relating to the environment. The NGT website even mentions that the tribunal has cleared 90% of the cases. But a close look will reveal the tribunal’s mandate to protect the environment is not yet fulfilled.

About the National Green Tribunal (NGT):

  1. National Green Tribunal (NGT) is a quasi-judicial body established on October 18, 2010. It was established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 to handle environment-related disputes.
  2. India is the third country following Australia and New Zealand to have such a system.
  3. The Mandate of NGT is to dispose of the cases related to the environment in an effective and efficient manner. The NGT handles cases related to,
    • Environmental protection
    • Environmental clearances for projects by the government are covered under the jurisdiction of NGT.
    • Conservation of forests and other natural resources.
    • Enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment.
    • Relief and compensation for damages to persons and properties.

Challenges with the working of NGT

  1. Since the inception of the NGT Act, the tribunal never functioned in its full capacity. According to the NGT Act, the tribunal should have 10 members in the Judicial and 10 members in the Expert capacity. At present, the NGT is functioning with three judicial and three expert members only. This is much less than the official requirement under the NGT Act.
  2. It has failed to achieve the Right to a healthy environment as a part of the Right to Life under Article 21.
  3. NGT has invoked the deadline associated with the technical clause and dismissed 11 petitions last year alone. This shows the inability of NGT to solve the cases in a time-bound manner.
  4. Lack of expertise in the functioning of Tribunal. This is evident that many decisions of NGT have been challenged and overruled in the Supreme Court. For Instance
    • The Supreme Court questioned the expertise of NGT in the case of the Subansiri Hydropower Project in Arunachal Pradesh 2019. Further, the court also overruled the ban imposed by NGT on that project.
  5. The tribunal also failed to carry out the merits-based review and discharge of adjudicatory function. For example, In Mopa Airport Case, the apex court held that the NGT lacks merits-based review on its judgements.
  6. Limited Regional Benches: The NGT has located only in big cities. But, environmental exploitation is majorly taking place in the tribal areas of dense forest. There is a limited opportunity for these people to come forward and file a case in NGT.

Way Forward

  • The Government needs to reform the provisions of the NGT Act to include more number of judicial and expert officials.
  • Apart from that, the government also needs to ensure the filling of Vacancies in a time-bound manner. This will ensure the proper functioning of NGT.
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