NGT member quits citing lack of facilities

Exasperated by the lack of facilities, Justice A S Naidu on Tuesday resigned from the National Green Tribunal (NGT), even as the green panel sought urgent intervention by the Supreme Court to correct the situation.

In its first appearance in the apex court during the hearing of a petition over appointment of members and improving its infrastructure, NGT informed that after the resignation of two judges in the recent past, "another" judicial member resigned on Tuesday since "they don't even have a decent room for accommodation."

Sources in NGT confirmed that Justice Naidu, who was appointed in May 2011 and functioned as its acting chairperson till Justice Swatanter Kumar took over as the full-time head, put in his papers, citing irreconcilable issues and lack of facilities.

Appearing for the NGT, senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam told a Bench led by Justice G S Singhvi that the tribunal was working amid a "very sorry state of affairs" where there was no accommodation facilities for the members, cheques were not being cleared and the budgetary allocation had only gone down since Justice Kumar took over.

"I feel very sorry to say if such standard of facilities were contemplated by the government. The government has not sanctioned the Rs 22 lakh rent that is to be paid by the NGT to the government only as its landlord. The members have been put up in the middle of quarters of Class III and IV employees in Van Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi. The initial budget of Rs 32 crore was slashed to Rs 10 crore but as soon as the new chairperson comes, it is further reduced to Rs 6 crore," contended Subramaniam.

He questioned how could the NGT be repeatedly requesting the Environment Ministry for facilities when it was supposed to decide issues involving clearances from the ministry only. "Each of the members are paying from their own pocket for travelling. They don't even have supply of food at work and they are so compelled to get food from a canteen. Is this how the government proposes to treat the sitting and former judges of the High Courts and Supreme Court?" he said.

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