The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has received 1,691 letter petitions or petitions through e-mails from across the country in just seven months i.e., from July 2018 to January 2019.
Of the 1,691, the tribunal admitted 321 as petitions after technical scrutiny and identifying genuine grievances. As many as 239 of these 321 petitions stand disposed of.
Considering the number of petitions it received, the tribunal said, "The initiative that began in July 2018 is an acknowledgement that ordinary citizens who cannot afford costs of litigation must be empowered to seek remedy for environmental harm. They cannot be hassled with the process and costs of engaging advocates, filing a case and following it up subsequently."
On the large number of letter petitions received in just even months, the tribunal said, "The Tribunal's careful examination of issues in the letters/emails shows that the grievances in letters/emails are raised mostly because citizens did not approach concerned statutory authorities that are first-responders to day-to-day issues or because such authorities did not act in an effective manner.
"For examples, such authorities include local municipal bodies, Fire Department, Police, Pollution Control Boards, Town & Country Planning, Flood and Irrigation departments, Sewerage and Drainage departments, Slum Development and Encroachment Removal bodies etc. This clearly shows that enforcement and local level vigilance/monitoring in these statutory bodies are deficient.
"It would be appropriate that Local Agencies strengthen their Public Grievance Redressal Division (PGRD) to be equipped with required infrastructure to provide remedy expeditiously."
It is to be noted that the environmental concerns raised in these 1,691 petitions revolved around encroachments in parks and water bodies, tree cutting, sand mining in rivers, small industries causing pollution, groundwater depletion and environmental impact of mobile towers.