High court stays Centre’s move to shift Goa’s NGT cases to Delhi
PANAJI: High court of Bombay at Goa, on Monday, taking suo motu cognizance of the decision of the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) to transfer Goa’s environmentalcases from the Pune bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to the Delhi bench, has issued a notice to the government.
The high court questioned as to why Goa has been singled out while no change has been made in the status of the two other states from the western region — Maharashtra and Karnataka — which continue under the jurisdiction of the Pune bench. The HC has restrained authorities from moving files pertaining to Goa cases from NGT Pune bench to Delhi bench, till September 5, which is the next date of hearing. Senior advocate Saresh Lotlikar has been appointed amicus curiae, while advocate Mahesh Amonkar will appear for the government.
Two petitions challenging the ministry’s notification have also been filed.
One petition, filed by social activist Kashinath Shetye, has pointed out that the distance between Goa and Delhi is 1,874km while that between Goa and Pune is 420km. The increased distance will discourage affected parties from approaching NGT Delhi, Shetye has stated in his petition.
He also said that MoEFCC could not have changed the jurisdiction for Goa without granting affected parties from the state a hearing. The petitioner has prayed for a special bench for Goa.
Goan activists, who were filing a chunk of the complaints regarding environmental matters before the Pune bench, are agitated by the decision.
By a notification issued on August 10, the ministry excluded Goa from the jurisdiction of the Pune bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and brought it under the Delhi bench. However, almost six years ago, on August 11, 2011, the ministry had issued a notification demarcating north, south, east and west zones with principal and regional benches.