Kerala is yet to fully explore the possibilities of obtaining reliefs, compensation and restoration orders on environmental matters from the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Ritwick Dutta, a lawyer specialising in environmental issues, has said.
Talking on the sidelines of a workshop on “Using the NGT successfully for conserving the environment,” jointly organised by the River Research Centre and One Earth One Life, Mr. Dutta said a number of litigations have been filed from States including Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Goa before the tribunal.
Given the history of litigations in Kerala, the State should have shown more interest in the tribunal. It must be the lack of awareness on the scope of litigation and the powers of the tribunal that have deterred environmental litigations from the State. Doubts over the effectiveness of the tribunal in addressing the issues prevailed in the State. There were a few fit cases involving environmental issues from the State for which remedy could be sought from the tribunal, he said.
On an average, the tribunal delivered judgments within five to seven months of filing petitions. People were more optimistic about the tribunal as they get judgments faster than from other courts. Besides environmentalists, industrialists too were approaching the forum, he said.
The NGT is considered the most powerful tribunal ever established in the country. On July 4, it will complete two years of functioning. However, the tribunal is yet to get the required infrastructure and staff. Currently, the posts of seven judges were lying vacant, he said.
It could be seen that more that 70 per cent of the cases dealt by the tribunal were mega projects such as the construction of dams and thermal power projects. Around 700 petitions have been filed with the tribunal, he said.
Earlier, environmentalists including M.K. Prasad, A. Latha and Harish Vasudevan took part in the deliberations.