While the National Green Tribunal — having technical expertise — may be better equipped to handle complex environmental matters, it lacks an effective framework for determining compensation.
Armin Rosencranz, Professor, Jindal School of Environment & Sustainability, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Raghuveer Nath, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
In nearly a decade of its existence, the National Green Tribunal (NGT’ or ‘Tribunal) has positively changed environmental adjudication in India. The push for its creation came from the judiciary rather than the legislature, as the former is not adequately equipped to tackle complex environmental issues involving a high degree of scientific uncertainty. While the NGT- having technical expertise -may be better equipped to handle complex environmental matters, it lacks an effective framework for determining compensation. This is primarily due to three reasons, as will be discussed in this paper.
First, despite the wide discretion provided by the NGT Act 2010 with respect to determining compensation, the NGT’s unreasoned trend of pegging initial compensation at five percent of the project cost or at INR five crore does not bear semblance with ground realities and intricacies of a case. Second, the NGT, in many cases, fails to establish an environmental baseline condition prior to the alleged damage and accordingly is unable to quantify environmental damage. Third, the NGT frequently fails to hold the governmental authorities accountable.
In this paper, we endeavour to demonstrate this lack of framework through the relevant case laws. In particular, we will analyse Manoj Mishra v. Delhi Development Authority (‘the Art of Living Case) – arguably one of the most controversial cases decided by the NGT-and will demonstrate how it exemplifies this.
Published in: NUJS Law Review
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