National Green Tribunal asks applicants and appellants to give concerned authorities 15 days’ time to respond before approaching the tribunal, effective 1 August 2018
The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in its order dated 19 July 2018 in the case of Shivpal Bhagat v Union of India has directed that every applicant and appellant must approach the NGT after giving the concerned authority against which it has filed the appeal or application a time period of 15 days to respond. Thereafter when the applicant or appellant approaches the NGT it is obligatory that the response received from the concerned authority is also mentioned in the application or appeal filed before the NGT.
The case involved an application filed before the NGT in the month of March 2018 alleging that the concerned authorities had failed to act against the thermal power plants, coal washeries and other industries in Tamnar and Gharghoda blocks of Raigarh District in the state of Chattisgarh.
Concerns have been raised by environmentalists and various activist groups on the NGT order as the new process may not help in seeking immediate relief in cases where instances of deforestation, illegal mining, air and water pollution etc. are involved and are of a continuing nature. Activists argue that providing the erring authorities 15 days’ time before approaching the NGT may alert the violators and therefore may also aggravate the environmental damage or may be used to threaten or influence the applicant or appellant.
While the concerns raised by activists highlight the potential for misuse of the new procedure, if implemented properly and if the authorities use it to address environmental concerns and take appropriate steps to preserve and protect the environment, the new procedure may also help in reducing the number of frivolous litigation and would also discourage applicants and appellants who approach the NGT with vested interest. However, the impact of the NGT order remains to be seen and will be visible only after 1 August 2018 when parties begin to comply with the new procedure.
- Sanjeev Kapoor (Partner), Rajat Jariwal (Partner), Nawneet Vibhaw (Associate Partner) & Aakash Bajaj (Senior Associate), Khaitan & Co LLP, New Delhi
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