Greens see red: Pune bench of National Green Tribunal a non-starter

A year after it was established in Pune, the National Green Tribunal bench one of the three benches to be set up in the country remains a non-starter, what with the state government yet to provide necessary infrastructure and staff for its functioning.

The fall-out: Cases involving environmental issues also remain grounded a cause for heartburn among green activists on the occasion of World Environment Day.

A bench of the National Green Tribunal was inaugurated on February 17, 2012. "It was inaugurated as a temporary arrangement in the Council Hall. However, a proper place was designated for it on the first floor of new administrative building," said advocate Asim Sarode of the Sahyog Trust.

Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh, expert member of the National Green Tribunal Devendra Kumar Agarwal, advocate Asim Sarode and environmentalist Neeraj Wagholikar were present at the inauguration.

It has been a year since its inauguration, said Sarode, yet the bench is yet to become fully functional. "Necessary infrastructure, court structure, staff and other related requirements are still not in place. The state government has to make it functional. However, the government does not seem to be bothered," said Sarode. "When we recently visited the bench premises, all we saw were some electric fittings. Even the dias that is to be presided over by the judge remains incomplete."

The states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Daman and Diu come under the jurisdiction of the National Green Tribunal bench. "When it was inaugurated last year, we were told that it would be a circuit bench, meaning it would not be a permanent bench. Later though, we were told it would be a permanent bench," said Sarode.

The Environment and the Law and Judiciary Ministries had sanctioned the bench for Pune, along with two other places in the country.

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