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India’s National Green Tribunal Sets an Important Precedent

A Casual Approach 

By taking on board the concerns of a fishing community in Hazira, India, regarding the construction of a port, the National Green Tribunal has set an important precedent.

I n 2013, a fishermen’s group in Hazira—the Hazira Machimar Samiti—and three affected fishermen had filed a petition against the Adanis, the project proponent of the port at Hazira, in Surat district in the south-western Indian state of Gujarat, as well as against the governmental bodies that granted environmental clearance to the project proponent. The case was filed in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) as, since 2010, cases relating to environment protection are exclusively dealt with by this tribunal for ‘effective and expeditious’ disposal of cases. The Tribunal has the powers of any other civil court in the country and can provide for relief and compensation for damages to person and property. The case was heard by the NGT’s western zone bench in Pune and on 8 January 2016, the judgment was finally delivered.

There are about 80 families in the village of Hazira engaged in fishing using traditional boats. These boats sailed into sea through a creek, at the opening of which now sits the Hazira port. The fishermen fear that if the port is expanded anymore, they will lose access to this creek. The port was developed in phases since 2003 after it was granted environmental clearance, and the petitioners claimed that this had already caused massive environmental damage to the surroundings. They demanded restoration costs for the environmental damages caused by the project proponent.

To read the rest of this article in the Samdura Report, click here

 

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