Maharashtra moves SC against NGT over appointment of pollution board chief
After the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed chairpersons of pollution boards in 10 states, including Maharashtra, to stop work because the officials are not qualified for the job, the state government moved the Supreme Court (SC) against the order last week.
In an affidavit, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) submitted the qualifications of the current chairperson, Satish Gavai, to the apex court, saying that he was fit to head the agency. After the NGT order on June 7 that directed the chairman to stop exercising powers over the board, work at MPCB has been stalled.
The Supreme Court will hear the matter on July 3.
Apart from Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand pollution control boards have also moved the apex court in the past one month. However, the Himachal Pradesh board approached local courts and stated that they would abide by the NGT order by September.
In August last year, the NGT had asked all state governments to appoint people who were better qualified to head the boards, and not politicians and bureaucrats without requisite qualifications and experience. The boards were given three months to replace the chairpersons. The NGT had said that if they don’t, the current officeholders must stop functioning.
The NGT direction came after the states failed to file a status report, six months after the NGT deadline to comply with the guidelines.
Officials said that when the order was issued last year, the state had moved the SC but could not get a stay. “We filed a fresh affidavit on the stay and SC wanted to know the current chairperson’s qualifications. It is an issue of jurisdiction. The state has the powers to decide the chairman and frame rules. This is what we are telling the court,” said a senior official from the state government.
He added that the affidavit entailed details such as Gavai’s graduation in Bachelor of Science (physics) from University of Mumbai, post-graduation from Cornell University, New York and IAS officer, Maharashtra cadre of the 1984 batch.
He has been chief executive officer (CEO) of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), vice-president and CEO of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada), additional municipal commissioner (projects) of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and principal secretary of water resources department.
Currently, Gavai holds the post of additional chief secretary, state environment department, chairman of Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) and member secretary of State Environment Impact Assessment Authority Maharashtra.