Ten months after it first issued advertisements to fill up 95 vacancies on various posts in the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the government is yet to finalise the candidates for these posts. The green panel is currently working with an acting chief at nearly half its sanctioned strength of 182 members. The government had told Lok Sabha in a written reply that it has set up a search-cum-selection committee for the vacant posts of the Chairperson and Judicial Members and that of the Expert Members is under finalisation. As per the government data, the total sanctioned posts in the NGT are 182 – Chairperson, 10 Judicial Members, 10 Expert Members and 161 other posts.
Of these, the posts of the Chairperson, five Judicial Members, eight Expert Members and 81 other posts are vacant. Set up in October 2010, the NGT has been mandated to work for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of nature. Currently, Justice U.D. Salvi is working as the acting Chairperson of the panel after Justice Swatanter Kumar demitted office earlier this month, but even he is due to retire in February next year. “Applications have been invited for filling up the posts of Judicial Members and Expert Members in the NGT vide advertisement issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on March 1, 2017 and subsequent advertisement issued on August 29, 2017 in compliance with the provisions of the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2017,” said the government reply.
It said that the Search-cum-Selection Committee for selecting a Chairperson and Judicial Members has been set up and that for the Expert Members is under finalization, while “efforts are being made by the NGT” to fill up the other vacant posts by “promotion or on deputation basis”. Of late, the Tribunal’s principal bench in Delhi is left with less than one-third of its sanctioned strength of 20 officials. Its zonal benches are in Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai, and Shimla, Shillong, Jodhpur and Kochi have circuit benches.