The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday passed an order holding that it had the jurisdiction to hear petitions of the Goa Foundation and Peaceful Society, Goa-based environmental groups on implementation of the Madhav Gadgil Panel report on Western Ghats.

The order passed by Chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar and other members of the Bench on Thursday said that “certainly, the Tribunal may not issue any direction to the government to accept or reject either of the reports submitted to it or to adopt any particular course of action. However, if the Tribunal, on merits, is satisfied, nothing prevents the Tribunal from issuing appropriate directions in terms of Section 5 of the Environment Act for the State to discharge its statutory obligations.”

The order held that the present application was maintainable before the Tribunal and directed that the main application be listed for hearing on merits.

Activist hails verdict

Welcoming the verdict, environmental activist and Director of Goa Foundation Claude Alvares said here that this judgment would set a trend for the NGT taking up all important matters of environmental significance.

The NGT had already passed interim orders in favour of petitioners, disallowing the Ministry of Environment and Forests and other State environmental impact authorities from granting any environmental clearances for projects in those areas that are demarcated as ecologically sensitive zone 1 in the Gadgil panel report, he noted.