The Loss of Ecology Authority (LoEA), which has awarded Rs. 69.35 crore as compensation to 90,010 farmers in Tamil Nadu and reversal schemes worth 165.63 crore to various districts in the last 20 years and which has almost become dysfunctional, has been directed by the Madras High Court to wind up. All its functions have been transferred lock, stock and barrel to the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
Bringing to an end a batch of petitions moved by farmers and other associations with pleas to make the LoEA a permanent body and appoint a chairperson to the Authority and other pleas seeking to transfer the functions to NGT, a Division Bench of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and N. Kirubakaran passed the order concurring with the stand of the Centre that after the constitution of the Tribunal, it is not necessary to continue the LoEA.
Noting that there was no point in multiplying quasi-judicial Tribunals and Authorities, the Bench said, “The direction issued by the Supreme Court on August 28, 1996 for the constitution of LoEA, was at a time when no environmental court was in existence in the country.”
The direction issued by the apex court should be understood to be a direction to make a temporary arrangement till an Environmental Tribunal was constituted. Once such a Tribunal was constituted, with original as well as appellate jurisdiction, the necessity to continue LoEA does not arise, the Bench added.
Brushing away the opposition raised by environmentalists, the Bench said, “We have independently come to conclusion that the powers and functions of the LoEA can be effectively discharged by the NGT, subject to certain safeguards.”
The Bench directed the Union government to constitute an additional Bench in the Southern Bench of the NGT within six months in view of the huge volume of claims now getting transferred to it.
‘There is no necessity to continue LoEA after the constitution of National Green Tribunal’