Before the National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench In the matter of Original Application No. 4/2014
S K Goyal….Applicant Versus M/o Environment & Forests and others.
Rejoinder by Applicant in response to responses received from
Central Pollution Control Board Respondent No. 1
Response to para 1 to 4: Only introductory – requires no response.
Response to Para 5 to 9: The respondent is trying to impress upon that the subject matter of conserving nature does not fall within the purview of NGT as it does not qualify the test as per section 14 read with section 2(m) of the NGT Act 2010. My response:
Section 2(m) of NGT Act 2010 reads as under:
(m) Substantial question relating to environment shall include an instance where,-
(i) there is a direct violation of specific statutory environmental obligation by a person by which
(A) the community at large other than an individual or group of individuals is affected or likely to be affected by the environmental consequences: or
(B) the gravity of damage to the environment or property is substantial: or
(C) The damage to public health is broadly measurable:
(ii) the environmental consequences relate to a specific activity or a point source of pollution;
The Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) is the nodal agency in the administrative structure of the Central Government for the planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing the implementation of India’s environmental and forestry policies and programmes. So by refusing to act upon the issue forwarded by President of India (vide receipt no. PRSEC/E/2012/15298) directly relating to the conservation of forests/ environment, MOEF has violated a specific statutory environmental obligation as referred in sec 2 (m)(i). Since this matter relates to reducing large quantities of paper consumption in public offices across India and is directly related with conservation of environment matter also qualifies the test of sec 2(m)(i)(A), (B) & (ii).
It seems that MoEF is not seriously trying to understand the merit of issue but diverting its energy in tangling it. If the NODAL Agency of Govt. of India having prime job of co-ordinating the environmental & forestry policies would not entertain this application having large impact on conservation of natural resources who else would? It is unfortunate that despite a premier GOI agency to deal with matters of environment MoEF is not able to appreciate the merit in application and is working with a mind set to find fault.
Response to para 10: I re-iterate the objective of MOEF “The Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) is the nodal agency in the administrative structure of the Central Government for the planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing the implementation of India’s environmental and forestry policies and programmes.”
It is not understood that why MPEF is shying away from the responsibility on flimsy ground stated in its response. There are so many examples where courts have to intervene to wake up the sleeping executives and direct them to act in the interest of society as a whole. There are precedents available, particularly in the field of environment protection where legislations have been enacted after intervention of courts like setting pollution norms by vehicles, waste disposal treatment rules etc.
In the instant case as well the first suggestion to print paper on both sides was moved by the applicant on 24 Sep 2012 thru President of India which was transferred to MOEF Sh B M S Rathore/Sh Anil Sant, Joint Secretary – PG on 28 Sep 2012, and now after dragging it and without taking any initiative to handle this vital issue for almost 2 years MOEF has come out with excuse. Using paper both sides is a matter of day to day office procedure and it is not a convincing fact that for such a basic issue a fresh law is required to be passed by Parliament. There are so many office procedures & rules – each one has not been passed by Parliament e.g.
(i) in many Govt. offices the process to mark the attendance has been changed from manual to electronic – has any law been enacted for this?
(ii) Department of Public enterprises has issued order that no public sector company shall invite competitive bids of interest rates from banks – has any law been passed for this?
(iii) As per rules mentioning pin code in address is necessary – has any law been passed for this?
(iv) In order to mitigate usage of plastic Department of P&T has issued an order that it will not accept invitation cards & magazines wrapped in plastic cover – has any law been passed for it?
(v) Whether half yearly DA increased passed by parliament?
Conserving environment & forests is not a new policy – printing paper on both side will not result in a new policy but a way to operationalize the existing policy for strong enforcement. By citing that it will result in framing a new policy for which court has no jurisdiction MOEF has tried to forward a baseless argument which holds no water and has also shown ignorance about its own duty.
S K Goyal