New Delhi, March 12: The government should focus on ensuring cleanliness of environment instead of mulling to cut down powers of the National Green Tribunal, the panel's chief Justice Swatanter Kumar on Thursday said.
"I read it in newspapers that there was a serious resentment with the working of Green Tribunal. I don't think it is necessary to cut down the powers of the Tribunal because priority of government should not be whether NGT has powers or not. The objective of the government should be cleanliness of environment," the former Supreme Court judge said.
"We are going to exercise the powers that law has given us and it is for the government to decide what they have to do. We respect what the government does and expect agencies implementing our orders to follow them with utmost sincerity," he said.
He was speaking to reporters in connection with an international conference on "The Global Environmental Issues" being organised by Environment Ministry, Indian Law Institute and the Tribunal.
Asked whether NGT has the power to take suo moto cognisance of matters related to environment, he said "there is a grey area in this regard as there is no patent act.
"Our job is to protect environment. Anything under the sun is environment. We are liberal in procedure and we are reaching out to people," he said.
On efficacy of Central Pollution Control Board, he said CPCB has its own limitations in terms of infrastructure and staff.
"They are not fully equipped. Everybody has to put efforts together. Unless and until the citizens make up their mind that we are going to do it, no authority can do it. We cannot blame anybody. Everybody has to come together and it has to be a collective effort," he said.
Kumar appreciated the role of Environment Ministry in organising this conference saying, "MoEF has been very cooperative and seriously involved in settling environmental issues. It is the result of the objectivity in thinking of the two institutions that what we have brought by this international conference."
He said that people from different walks of society including chief justices, judges, lawyers, professors and environment activists from almost 22 countries are participating in this conference, scheduled for March 14-15.
"This conference is an effort to sensitise judges of the environmental issues as they are also dealing with matters related to environment. "We are just a small entity who are trying to share the work responsibility of the courts of the country which are tremendously burdened with work," he said.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari will be the chief guest at the conference, to be presided over by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu.
Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar and Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi will be the guests of honour at the conference in which issues like global warming, disaster management, solid waste management, climate change and other issues will be discussed.