National Green Tribunal’s Role and Contributions

In the corridors of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), growing frustration is evident against NGT. Some call it a “power-hungry institution” that has failed the purpose for which it was created. But does NGT need to be reined in or do we need to give it more powers? How has it fared on various counts?

National Green Tribunal’s Role and Contributions

NGT upholds rights of pastoralists in Banni Grasslands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Banni Grasslands

Mains level : Not Much

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered all encroachments to be removed from Gujarat’s Banni grasslands.

Banni Grasslands

  • Banni Grasslands form a belt of arid grassland ecosystem on the outer southern edge of the desert of the marshy salt flats of Rann of Kutch.
  • They are known for rich wildlife and biodiversity and are spread across an area of 3,847 square kilometers. Two ecosystems, wetlands and grasslands, are juxtaposed in Banni.
  • They are currently legally protected under the status as a protected or reserve forest in India.
  • Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has identified this grassland reserve as one of the last remaining habitats of the cheetah in India and a possible reintroduction site for the species.
  • The region hosts a nomadic pastoralist community, the Maldharis, whose livelihoods depend on this protected shrub-savanna.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Which one of the following is the correct sequence of ecosystems in the order of decreasing productivity?(CSP 2014)

(a) Oceans, lakes, grasslands, mangroves

(b) Mangroves, oceans, grasslands, lakes

(c) Mangroves, grasslands, lakes, oceans

(d) Oceans, mangroves, lakes, grasslands

What is the recent NGT verdict?

  • The court also said the Maldharis will continue to hold the right to conserve the community forests in the area, granted to them as per the provisions in Section 3 of Forest Rights Act, 2006.
  • NGT highlighted that the lack of coordination between the forest department and the revenue department lead to the problem of encroachment.
  • The grassland was first declared a “protected forest” in May 1955, using the nomenclature of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
  • Since then, the actual transfer of the land from the Revenue department to the Forest department has not been completed.

Back2Basics: National Green Tribunal

  • The NGT has been established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
  • It works for:
  1. effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection
  2. conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and
  3. giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto
  • It is not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
  • The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
  • Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible.
  • New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of the Tribunal.

National Green Tribunal’s Role and Contributions

In news: Athirappally Waterfalls

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various waterfalls mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : NA

The Kerala government recently gave the go-ahead for the proposed 163-megawatt (MW) Athirappally Hydroelectric Project.

Information about some of India’s tallest waterfalls is provided in the B2b section. Kindly pen them down along with their respective states. They can be asked in the match the pair type question.

Athirappally Waterfalls

  • The famous Athirappally Waterfalls is located on the Chalakudy River in Thrissur district of Kerala.
  • It originates from the upper reaches of the Western Ghats at the entrance to the Sholayar ranges.
  • It is the largest waterfall in Kerala, which stands tall at 80 feet and is nicknamed “The Niagara of India”.
  • Controversy about a state-proposed hydroelectric dam on the Chalakudy River above the waterfalls began in the 1990s and continued through 2021.

Issues with the Hydel project

  • A number of families belonging to the Kadar tribal group are facing displacement here.
  • The dam will also affect irrigation and tourism possibilities in the downstream parts of the Chalakudy River.
  • The falls and its surroundings are part of a crucial biodiversity-rich region coming under the Ecologically Sensitive Zone 1 of the Western Ghats.
  • The Ghats themselves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world.

Back2Basics: Waterfalls in India

  • Vajrai Falls (560m): Satara, Maharashtra
  • Kunchikal Falls (455m): Shimoga, Karnataka
  • Barehipani Falls (390m): Odisha
  • Nohkalikai Falls (340m): East Khasi, Meghalaya
  • Dudhsagar Falls (310m): Karnataka, Goa

National Green Tribunal’s Role and Contributions

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NGT

Mains level : NGT and its jurisdiction

  • The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a legal question whether the National Green Tribunal (NGT), established to deal with cases pertaining to environmental issues has the power to take cognizance of a matter on its own.

About National Green Tribunal

  • The NGT has been established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
  • It draws inspiration from India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
  • It aims for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • It has Original Jurisdiction on matters of “substantial question relating to environment” and & “damage to the environment due to specific activity” (such as pollution).
  • It follows principles of Natural Justice.
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