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Nine major judgments of NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar

From banning old vehicles in Delhi to restricting traffic to Rohtang, a list of verdicts by the outgoing NGT chairman that made an impact on the environment over the last two years.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2017 22:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Swatanter Kumar,Green tribunal,NGT
National Green Tribunal Swatanter Kumar with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Phadanvis at the Regional Conference on Environment - 2017 recently. (Ravindra Joshi/ HT File)

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) will face an unprecedented staff crunch when its chairman, Justice Swatanter Kumar, retires on Tuesday.

Though the green tribunal was launched with seven benches across the country upon its creation in 2010, the number has essentially come down to just two – a principal bench in Delhi and another in Bhopal. Nevertheless, even with the depleted resources at its disposal, the Justice Kumar-led tribunal managed to deliver a series of landmark verdicts over the last two years. Highlights:

Capital ban on old vehicles

On April 7, 2015, the NGT ordered that all diesel vehicles over 10 years old will not be permitted to ply in Delhi-NCR. On November 26, 2014, it had banned plying of all diesel or petrol vehicles that were more than 15 years old.

Ganga rejuvenation

The tribunal passed a slew of directions to rejuvenate the Ganga in July 2017, declaring an area of 100 metres from the edge of the Haridwar-Unnao stretch as a ‘no-development zone’ and prohibiting waste from being dumped within 500 metres.

Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project

In January 2015, the principal bench passed a slew of directions – including the imposition of a Rs 5,000-fine on people found throwing waste or religious items into the river – as part of its Yamuna rejuvenation plan. It also banned dumping of construction material into the river and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on violators. The tribunal also restrained real estate developers from carrying out construction work on the floodplains.

Ban on plastic items

The NGT, in August, imposed an interim ban on plastic bags of less than 50-micron thickness in Delhi because “they were causing animal deaths, clogging sewers and harming the environment”. A ban on plastic items near the Ganga was also passed recently, while a similar ban was ordered at Chandigarh in 2015.

Restricting traffic to Rohtang

The green court in 2015 ordered that only 800 petrol and 400 diesel (total 1,200) vehicles will be permitted to drive up to Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh every day. This is believed to have cleaned the environment but impact the livelihoods of local residents.

Diktat against stubble burning

In December 2015, the NGT prohibited agricultural residue burning in any part of Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, and directed the states to provide the farmers with monetary and technical aid for extracting agricultural residue that can be used as industrial fuel. Justice Swatanter Kumar also rapped the Punjab government for failing to curb crop burning through the provision of incentives.

Cap on number of Vaishno Devi pilgrims

The NGT on November 12 capped the number of pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir to 50,000 a day. If that number is exceeded, they could be stopped either at Ardhkumari or Katra, the green tribunal ruled.

Silence at Amarnath

The NGT on December 13 declared the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir as a “silence zone”, and prohibited religious offerings beyond the entry point. Following protests, it clarified that no restriction has been imposed on chanting of mantras and singing of bhajans inside the shrine.

The Art of Living’s World Culture Festival verdict

The green tribunal, on December 7, held the Art of Living Foundation “responsible” for the damage caused by the World Culture Festival to the Yamuna floodplains in 2016. The order stated that the Rs 5-crore fine paid by the organisation will be used for restoration work by the Delhi Development Authority.

First Published: Dec 19, 2017 22:49 IST