The Bombay High Court bench in Panaji on Wednesday struck down a controversial MoEF notification issued on August 10, which had attempted to shift National Green Tribunal’s jurisdiction for Goa, from neighbouring Pune to New Delhi. The High Court had taken the motu cognizance on the matter on August 23 and finally gave its order on Wednesday.
Activists across Goa applauded the decision as they saw it as the state trying to stifle their environment conservation movement — with half of the cases in NGT tribunal involving environmental cases from Goa.
The Union Ministry had initially moved the notification following request from Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who in a press meet confirmed it was his idea to shift the NGT to New Delhi. While Parrikar had attributed lack of “connectivity” and loss of time for a Government employee as the reasons, activists during press conference echoed their fears of “harassment” as most of the NGT, Pune West Zone had orders which were in favour of the environmentalists. Parrikar had written to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) for transferring Goa related environmental cases from Pune to Delhi.
The green activists holding a press meet earlier in September had stated that for them, traveling to Pune was a night’s journey and a cheaper road fare than to travel to Delhi on short notice with steep in flight tickets. The Congress and AAP also came forward and welcomed the High Court’s decision.