Dr. Harsh Vardhan,
Minister for Environment , Forest and Climate Change
Government of India
Subject: Joint Statement on behalf of the concerned people and Civil Society Organisations of Tamil Nadu regarding non functioning of the Southern Zone Bench of the National Green Tribunal.We, the concerned people and Civil Society Organisations of Tamil Nadu would like to highlight our dismay at the Central Government and specifically the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in not making the National Green Tribunal functional at Chennai. Since October, 2017, the NGT has remained non functional because of lack of quorum. The task of filling up the vacancy is solely on your Ministry and inaction on the part of your Ministry shows that the plight of the people are not a cause of concern. We would like to highlight that the latest WHO Report has shown the dismal state of air quality in India. In such a situation, a grievance redressal mechanism is of critical importance We request you to immediately appoint Judicial and Expert Members in NGT to make the Southern Zone bench at Chennai functional. The non-functioning of the Bench has severely curtailed our Legal Right to Environment which is a regarded as a Fundamental Rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. Further, it is extremely time consuming and expensive for us to travel to New Delhi to approach the Principal Bench.
The Non Functioning of National Green Tribunal has severely curtailed the Fundamental Rights of the People of not only Tamil Nadu but all the Southern States.
The Parliament has passed the NGT Act, 2010 in view of the fact that the High Court’s do not have the technical capacity to deal with complex environmental issues.
We demand that till the NGT is made functional, the Central Government should financially support the travel and other expenditure of the litigants from Tamil Nadu who have to approach the NGT in New Delhi. The affected people cannot be expected to pay huge costs purely due to inaction of the Government of India in making appointments in time.
It is also requested until such appointments are made, no Environmental Clearance or Forest Clearance be granted to any project by the Ministry or State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities within the respective States coming under the jurisdiction of Southern bench of NGT.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan,