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The National Green Tribunal is committed towards environmental protection regardless of “grey” areas over its jurisdiction and has no conflict with the government, its chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said on Monday. “As an institution, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has no conflict with anybody including the government. We are committed towards environment protection and implement the laws with regard to environment and ecology. We do what the law asks us to do.
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“The Constitution has given us certain powers which the government cannot take and in the same way we cannot take away the powers of government. Both have their well defined roles, so there is no conflict of any kind,” Justice Kumar said in reply to a question at a seminar. The NGT chief said though there were “grey” areas with regard to jurisdiction of the tribunal, yet it was trying to tread its path cautiously with due assistance from the Supreme Court.
The former apex court judge was speaking at a function organised by private think tank Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations on the topic, ‘Greening Our Cities’. Hailing the vision of Constitution framers, he said India is the only country where Constitution provides for environment protection and even the Supreme Court has articulated that Right to Clean Environment is a fundamental right.
“We are dependent on West for looking towards environment protection but there can’t be greater environmental consciousness as in India. When we look back at history, we find that we have a tradition of worshiping trees, rivers and mountains. So, the concept of awareness towards environment is not new in our country,” he said. The NGT chief said though there were many laws for protection of environment but the core issue is with regards to their implementation.
“You blink your eye and you have a law for a particular issue with regard to environment. But the courts and tribunals cannot go to the field to implement the law. It is the duty of the government to execute the order on the ground. Additionally, the citizens of the country also must be conscious towards their surroundings. If an illegal activity is being done, they must report it to the authority concerned,” Justice Kumar said. He also highlighted the role of NGT in combating air pollution in Delhi-NCR and said there were three main sources of air pollution –dust, construction and burning of waste–which need to be taken care of by all the authorities.