Young Lok Sabha MPs,aided by some of their senior colleagues,on Wednesday managed to extract an assurance of desired amendments in the Green Tribunal Bill from Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. The members have made important suggestions. Even though their exact demands may not be part of the official amendments moved by the government… but I am open to their suggestions…I will remove all objectionable clauses or sections in the proposed law and keep the window of discussion open, Jairam Ramesh said after the completion of arguments by the MPs.
First it was BJDs Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo (36),who picked up specific sections and sub-clauses Section 14,15,18 of the Bill to drive home the point that it fell short on the parameters of scope,efficiency,and access to justice. While Section 14 fixes a rigid timeframe of six months for filing a complaint,Section 15 fixes a rigid timeframe of five years to claim compensation…Knowing the nature of different environmental damages like groundwater pollution and radiation effects,among others,these provisions would devoid the local community to seek damages, Deo argued,pointing out other issues which got a patient hearing from Ramesh.
After Deo,it was CPMs M B Rajesh (39),who while echoing his partys stand alleging corporate orientation of the Bill,pointed out loopholes in Sections 4,5,6 ,15(3),22(2),28 and demanded widening the culpability of offences and increasing the penal provisions. Section 28 puts a bar on the civil courts jurisdiction while promising to set up five benches of Tribunal in the country. This would create huge distance for the poor community members and tribals to seek justice, Rajesh said.
Deo and Rajesh came down heavily against narrowing the culpability of offences by violators as the Forest Rights Act,Wildlife Protection Act,and PESA have been left out of the Bill. They were supported by RLDs Jayant Chaudhary (32). The provisions put local community at disadvantage, he argued.
BSPs Vijay Bahadur Singh said,Section 15 puts an embargo against other than retired Judge of Supreme Court or Chief Justices of High Court. The other clause puts 15 years of administrative experience,which would open the path for packing the Tribunal with bureaucrats of the kind who did not enforce the environment related laws in their time in service.