Former Union Energy Secretary E. A. S. Sarma has underlined the need for citizens to know their environmental rights so as to assert them in green courts.

He was inaugurating a one-day orientation on the National Green Tribunal organised jointly by LIFE, New Delhi and Samata, Visakhapatnam, on Sunday. The 50 participants consisted of NGOs, concerned citizens, INTACH members, activists of Kakarapalli and Sompeta.

Mr. Sarma explained the importance of the green courts and how the matter related to Kakarapalli and Sompeta thermal plants were represented in the National Environment Appellate Authority and relief was obtained.

Samata executive director Ravi Rebbapragada explained that the purpose of the orientation was to acquaint people about the new Act by which an aggrieved person could approach the green tribunal on matters related to air, water, soil and related pollution issues, like ports and other polluting industries. Though there are green courts in 135 countries but for the first time in the world India had set up them at a high level.

Supreme Court advocate Ritwick Dutta who took up matters environment-related matters in the green courts explained at length the scope and powers, jurisdiction of the green courts and how people should make use of the latest Act that actually could make the polluter pay not only individual compensation but also the cost of restoring the damaged property to its original form.

Participants cleared many doubts and sought clarifications after the technical input to Ritwick Dutta on weather on the pollution of the Visakhapatnam Port, and the pollution from hotels in Chintapalli to the local hospital there.

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