- The National Green Tribunal has issued a slew of directions to deal with the situation in Delhi, including banning construction and industrial activities and entry of trucks, while lambasting the Delhi government and civic bodies over the worsening air quality in Delhi and neighbouring states.
- The NGT also directed the authorities and the civic bodies to sprinkle water where PM 10 is found to be in excess of 600 micrograms per cubic metre.
- Green panel also imposed a ban on the entry of diesel trucks more than ten years old and said that no vehicle from outside or within Delhi will be permitted to transport any construction material.
- It further directed the authorities to implement EPCA's directions to improve ambient air quality while asking the civic bodies to constitute teams to ensure there is no burning of waste in Delhi-NCR.
- It had also ordered Punjab, UP and Haryana governments to spell out the steps have they taken to prevent crop burning in the states adjacent to the national capital.
- Principal Bench of the NGT has been established in the National Capital – New Delhi, with regional benches in Pune (Western Zone Bench), Bhopal (Central Zone Bench), Chennai (Southern Bench) and Kolkata (Eastern Bench).
- Each Bench has a specified geographical jurisdiction covering several States in a region. There is also a mechanism for circuit benches. For example, the Southern Zone bench, which is based in Chennai, can decide to have sittings in other places like Bangalore or Hyderabad.
- The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Head Quartered in Delhi. Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts.
- Each bench of the NGT will comprise of at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.
- Expert members should have a professional qualification and a minimum of 15 years’ experience in the field of environment/forest conservation and related subjects.
The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act. These include the following:
- 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;
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
This means that any violations pertaining only to these laws, or any order / decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT. Importantly, the NGT has not been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc. Therefore, specific and substantial issues related to these laws cannot be raised before the NGT. You will have to approach the State High Court or the Supreme Court through a Writ Petition (PIL) or file an Original Suit before an appropriate Civil Judge of the taluk where the project that you intend to challenge is located.