National Green Tribunal Current Affairs - 2019

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National Green Tribunal forms committee to stop illegal groundwater extraction

Expressing concern over depleting groundwater levels, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has set up a committee to formulate steps required to prevent illegal extraction of groundwater.

NGT’s decision was take in response to hearing of a plea filed by a city resident, Shailesh Singh seeking action against depleting groundwater levels in nation and prevention of its illegal extraction.

Key Highlights of Committee

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the committee to evolve a robust mechanism for ensuring that groundwater is not illegally extracted and to monitor manning and functioning of Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).

Committee may look into the reports already submitted. The report may be furnished within 2 months by e-mail.

Members: Committee comprises of joint secretaries of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), National Remote Sensing Centre, National Institute of Hydrology (Roorkee) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Nodal agency will be the Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) for coordination and compliance.

Arguments by NGT

The tribunal took to notice that despite a 1996 order of Supreme Court order with regard to groundwater extraction, the water level has only gone down. The SC order had directed central government to constitute a body to look into the issue of groundwater depletion.

However, in spite of clear directions of Supreme Court, the CGWA is unwilling to take the ownership of subject and repeatedly takes the plea that it does not have infrastructure or that the responsibility of dealing with problem is of States and not that of the said authority.

Thus NGT stressed that it is high time that working of CGWA is reviewed and remedial measures are taken, including assessment of suitability of the person to head it. NGT also held that CPCB report that states that water intensive industries can be allowed even in semi-critical and critical areas without any further safeguards may not be acted upon till further orders.

NGT asks centre to prepare plan for protection of Great Indian Bustard

A National Green Tribunal (NGT) Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has directed Central government to prepare a time-bound action plan within two months for protection of Great Indian Bustard. This decision is in response to the high mortality rate of birds noted by NGT.

Key Highlights

Committee: NGT Bench headed by Justice A K Goel constituted a joint committee comprising officials of Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Ministry of Power, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and nominees of Energy Departments of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The committee was tasked to prepare an action plan for implementation of suggestions put forth by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) over the isuue.

Plea:  NGT was hearing a plea filed by Centre for Wildlife and Environment Litigation (CWEL), through advocate Gaurav Bansal, seeking directions to ministry to make bio-diversity impact assessment mandatory for every wind-power project, irrespective of its size/capacity. Plea stated that the reason for high mortality rate of critically endangered species of birds as per 30th Forest Advisory Committee meeting is power lines, especially high-voltage transmission lines with multiple overhead wires as the bird have poor frontal vision. It put forth that 75% of birds have died due to collision with power lines in past 30 years.

Environment Ministry also acknowledged that adult mortality among GIB is still very high due to collisions with power-lines that crisscross their flying paths.

WII Report Recommendations:

It suggested a slew of measures, such as mitigation of all power transmission lines passing through priority bustard habitats and disallowing new wind turbines, solar farms among others.

Steps should be taken to reduce poaching of specie and other wildlife in Thar landscape.

Poaching of GIB and other wildlife in Thar landscape could be reduced by improving protection enforcement through training of forest department frontline staff in smart patrolling tools with help of conservation organisations.

About Great Indian bustard

Scientific Name: Ardeotis nigriceps

Population: 200 individuals worldwide. Its largest populations are found in Indian state of Rajasthan.

Status: It is Listed in-

  • Schedule I of Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972,
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) or Bonn Convention
  • Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
  • IUCN Red List- as Critically Endangered
  • National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016)

It has also been identified as one of the species for recovery programme under Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC).