News: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a challenge to a National Green Tribunal (NGT) ban on the sale and use of firecrackers during the COVID-19 pandemic in the National Capital Region (NCR) and all cities and towns where the ambient air quality is in the poor or above categories.
A firecracker (cracker, noise maker, banger,) is a small explosive device primarily designed to produce a large amount of noise, especially in the form of a loud bang, usually for celebration or entertainment; any visual effect is incidental to this goal.
They have fuses, and are wrapped in a heavy paper casing to contain the explosive compound.
Firecrackers, along with fireworks, originated in China.
About National Green Tribunal Act:
It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
With the establishment of the NGT, India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.
NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.
Structure of NGT
The Tribunal comprises of the Chairperson, the Judicial Members and Expert Members. They shall hold office for term of five years and are not eligible for reappointment.
The Chairperson is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with Chief Justice of India (CJI).
A Selection Committee shall be formed by central government to appoint the Judicial Members and Expert Members.
There are to be least 10 and maximum 20 full time Judicial members and Expert Members in the tribunal.
Powers & Jurisdiction
The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving substantial question relating to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment).
Being a statutory adjudicatory body like Courts, apart from original jurisdiction side on filing of an application, NGT also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeal as a Court (Tribunal).
The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, but shall be guided by principles of ‘natural justice’.
While passing any order/decision/ award, it shall apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.
NGT by an order, can provide
relief and compensation to the victims of pollution and other environmental damage (including accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance),
for restitution of property damaged, and
for restitution of the environment for such area or areas, as the Tribunal may think fit.
An order/decision/award of Tribunal is executable as a decree of a civil court.
The NGT Act also provides a procedure for a penalty for non compliance:
Imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years,
Fine which may extend to ten crore rupees, and
Both fine and imprisonment.
An appeal against order/decision/ award of the NGT lies to the Supreme Court, generally within ninety days from the date of communication.
The NGT deals with civil cases under the seven laws related to the environment, these include:
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977,
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 and
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
Any violation pertaining to these laws or any decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT.
Strengths of NGT
Over the years NGT has emerged as a critical player in environmental regulation, passing strict orders on issues ranging from pollution to deforestation to waste management.
NGT offers a path for the evolution of environmental jurisprudence by setting up an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
It helps reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts on environmental matters.
NGT is less formal, less expensive, and a faster way of resolving environment related disputes.
It plays a crucial role in curbing environment-damaging activities.
The Chairperson and members are not eligible for reappointment, hence they are likely to deliver judgements independently, without succumbing to pressure from any quarter.
The NGT has been instrumental in ensuring that the Environment Impact Assessment process is strictly observed.
2. ARAVALLI RANGE
News: The Supreme Court orally said on Friday that structures encroaching into the ecologically fragile Aravali forest land at Lakarpur Khori in Haryana will be cleared.
About Aravalli Range:
The Aravalli Range (also spelled Aravali) is a mountain range in Northern-Western India, running approximately 670 km (430 mi) in a south-west direction, starting near Delhi, passing through southern Haryana and Rajasthan, and ending in Gujarat.
The highest peak is Guru Shikhar at 1,722 metres (5,650 ft).
The Aravalli Range is considered to be the oldest fold mountain system in the world.
News: Weeks after unveiling its electronic vehicle (EV) policy, the Maharashtra government on Friday announced its decision to become the first State in the country to join hands with Climate Group’s EV100 campaign.
The drive aims to make electric transport the new normal by 2030 by encouraging companies to switch from vehicles running on fossil fuels to EVs and install charging infrastructure.
Maharashtra’s EV policy aims to achieve 25% electrification of last-mile delivery vehicles by 2025. Within six months from the day of notification of the policy, e-commerce companies, delivery and logistics players, and mobility aggregators will submit EV transition plans to the Transport Department.
Climate Group, an international non-profit, will act as a bridge between private companies and the State government to ease the process of shifting their fleets to EVs. As per Climate Group and SYSTEMIQ research’s Fleets First study, the majority of EVs today are privately-owned passenger vehicles, while only 11% are part of fleets. Focussing on fleets can spur electrification and boost infrastructure.
The EV100 partnership aims to build a robust demand for EVs that can enable key linkages for the vibrant business community in Maharashtra, and support faster uptake of the policy.
EV100 is our global initiative bringing together companies committed to switching their fleets to electric vehicles and installing charging infrastructure for employees and customers by 2030.
EV100 members are increasing demand, influencing policy, and driving mass roll-out – helping to make electric vehicles more rapidly affordable for everyone.