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Supreme Court pulls up Bengal for delay over Green Tribunal bench, flouting its orders

New Delhi, July 9 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its anguish over the “thorough non-cooperation” of the West Bengal government in setting up a bench of the National Green Tribunal at Calcutta, and directed the Centre to look into the desirability of shifting it to Ranchi or Guwahati.

“We are of the view that the West Bengal government has been thoroughly non-cooperative for the last more than a year for the establishment of the bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT).

“The state government has flouted the orders of this court which has been brought to our notice by the NGT Chairman,” a bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya said.

The bench directed Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra to seek instruction from the authority concerned about the desirability of shifting the bench from Calcutta “to Ranchi or Guwahati” and posted the matter for hearing on July 16.

The court passed the order after perusing the status report filed by NGT updating the endeavour for the setting up of its benches at Bhopal, Chennai, Pune and Calcutta and the accomodation for their members (judicial and expert) and other infrastructural issues.

It noted that the NGT report expressed displeasure about the steps taken by the West Bengal government on the issue of making operational its bench in Calcutta to deal with the matters arising in eastern and north eastern region.

The report said the infrastructure for the bench was shoddy and the accommodation to be provided to the members was ”inhabitable”.

After perusing the report, the bench said “It is the misfortune of this country that an important bench like that of NGT is non-functional”.

While favouring the need to shift the bench from Calcutta, the bench said this would help the people from north-eastern states and other states in the region where matters relating to forest issues are being raised.

It said initial decision for setting up the bench in West Bengal may have been political but now the situation demands that it should be shifted either to Ranchi or Guwahati.

The court was told that there were four judicial members for the NGT benches and the appointment of another four was in the pipeline.        It was informed that the bench at Pune in Maharashtra will become functional very soon.

The apex court on March 15 had set April 30 as deadline for making functional benches of NGT at Bhopal, Pune and Calcutta and had warned the states concerned that failure to do so will require presence of their senior officials before it.


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