In a bid to tackle vacancies at the regional Benches of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the green panel is set to start hearing matters of the other Benches via videoconferencing.

With no recent appointments to the regional Benches in Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and Bhopal, the NGT has been functioning with less than one-third of its sanctioned strength of 20 judicial and expert members.

The selection committee that has been constituted is likely to make appointments within the next one month, said a NGT official.

“In the last few months, we have seen a large number of matters being transferred to the principal Bench as the regional Benches are not operational. However, once hearing through videoconferencing begins, the disposal rates will hopefully improve. The selection committee is working on the appointments of members for the regional Benches and it should be done within the next 30 days,” the official added.

Due to non-availability of the members, petitioners from across the country with environmental concerns, have been forced to approach the principal Bench in Delhi.

‘Huge financial loss’

“Travelling to Delhi for every hearing is not a feasible solution and leads to huge financial loss. However, petitioners who are in a desperate situation have no other option but to approach the principal Bench. This is outright denial of justice. Even though videoconferencing has its own limitations, through this we can probably get access to justice, even if for an interim period,” said Abhijit Prabhudesai, a petitioner from Goa.

Interim measure

Citing the move as an interim measure, a senior NGT official said, “It is only an interim arrangement till all the members are available and till the regional Benches become functional… The proposal is ready and it is most likely to start by July 23.”

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