The government will try to pass a bill on setting up of a special tribunal, which will settle environment disputes, in the current Parliament session, Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Friday.
The National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009, which has already been introduced in the Parliament in July, provides for the setting up of a tribunal with powers of a civil court for expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests.
The bill has been referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee, which is expected to submit its report on Monday, Mr. Ramesh said while speaking at a function to release a report ’Green India 2047’, prepared by TERI.
“I want to get the National Green Tribunal Bill passed in this Winter session. It will pave way for specialised environment court and will give a new dimension to the environment protection,” Mr. Ramesh said.
The bill aims at establishing an autonomous tribunal, which will take over from the Ministry in matters of environmental clearance of development projects. It will also ensure enforcement of legal right relating to environment and shall have jurisdiction over all civil cases pertaining to the entire set of central environment related laws.
The bill provides for relief and compensation to persons for environmental damage.
The ministry will set up a National Environment and Protection Authority which will function as an independent agency to give clearances on environmental issues and enforce environmental laws and standards.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has already prepared a discussion paper on the concept.
“We are getting feedback on it. There will be a meeting on December 26 to discuss it in detail. We will have a clear roadmap after that meeting,” Mr. Ramesh said.
The minister said that environment governance needs strengthening. At present 21 per cent of the land area is under forest cover. While two per cent of the forest area has high density, nine per cent has medium density while ten per cent of such area is degraded forest.
“Our environment governance needs a lot of change. We need to improve the quality of forest,” he said.
About 10 per cent of carbon emissions in the country is being sequestered by the forest now. This rate can be improved if the density of the forest is enhanced, he said.
Mr. Ramesh said it is time to bring environment concerns to the mainstream of growth accounting.
“Now it is time for economists to assess the green domestic products. We should calculate the GDP after studying the environment concerns,” he said, adding that such system may be put in place by 2015.