The National Green Tribunal, a judicial body exclusively to deal with environmental issues, is likely to start functioning from May with the Supreme Court lifting a stay imposed by Madras High Court on rules of appointment of its members.
The apex court stayed the high court's order and directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to "keep all rules and regulations in place by May 6" and inform the bench about its status, so that the body may start functioning.
A bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly also indicated that even if some deficiencies remain in the rules, the court will pass orders to the effect that petitions may be filed and interim orders may be sought from the green tribunal with immediate effect after 7th May.
The bench passed the orders on a petition by MoEF seeking transfer of the case, challenging rules for appointment of members of National Green Tribunal, from Madras High Court to the apex court.
The Centre had sought transfer of the case on the ground that the apex court was already hearing a matter related to non-appointment of expert and judicial members for NGT, due to which the only environment appellate body has remained non- functional since it came into existence on 18th October, 2010.
The case was initiated in 2005 by environmental activist Vimal Bhai, challenging environment clearance granted for execution of 600 MW Loharinag-Pala hydroelectric power projects at Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand.
Since then the case is pending due to non-appointment of members for National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA).
With NGT coming into existence, NEAA ceased to exist but the problem of non-appointment of members continued and rendered NGT non-functional.
The apex court had on 16th December last year directed the Centre to appoint expert and judicial members for the tribunal and make NGT functional in one month.