Saturday, June 2, 2018

NGT brings down circuit bench sitting in Pune bench


PUNE: The National Green Tribunal’s principal bench in New Delhi has modified its order of May 7 by reducing the period of circuit bench sitting at its western zone bench in Pune to three weeks, starting July 2, as against the two months announced earlier. The Pune bench covers environmental litigations arising from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa.

Justice Jawad Rahim, the acting chairperson of NGT, issued an order to this effect on May 31. The order did not specify any reason for modification of the May 7 order. A division bench of senior judicial member Justice Sonam Phintso Wangdi and expert member Nagin Nanda will conduct the judicial work for three weeks, starting July 2 in Pune.

The move has evoked a deep sense of disappointment among the environmental litigants and lawyers considering that regular hearing of litigations at the Pune bench has stopped since January 31 following the Supreme Court’s order that restrained the NGT from constituting single-member benches for hearing cases.

Lawyer Saurabh Kulkarni, president of the NGT Bar Association (western region), said, “The reduction in the period of circuit bench sitting comes as an unpleasant surprise to us. The least we can now expect is that the appointments of NGT judicial and expert members be completed by the time the three-week period is over so that regular hearing resumes at the Pune bench.”

Green litigant Sarang Yadvadkar said, “Three weeks is too short a time to address the kind of matters the bench has to deal with.” Yadvadkar, who is one of the petitioners in the pending litigation over the impact of Pune Metro rail construction on the Mutha river bed, said, “The present situation has occurred primarily due to the lack of resources like inadequate number of judicial and expert members for hearing environmental litigations. The Centre could have addressed this situation way earlier and in a much better way.”

“Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa are perhaps the most rapidly developing states with metro rail, bullet train and other big time infrastructure projects lined up for implementation apart from the industrial growth. This also has given rise to environmental litigations and the need to protect and conserve the environment. The need is to actually ensure that the bench in Pune continues to hold regular hearings on a full-time basis,” said Yadvadkar.

The western zone bench in Pune has the highest pendency (500 cases) compared to other benches in Kolkata, Bhopal and Chennai.


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