SC poses searching queries to Centre on Kudankulam

The Supreme Court on Thursday wanted to know from the Centre as to what would be the guarantee that there would be no radio active substance in the spent fuel to be stored at the controversial Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu to prevent any accident.

Posing a host of searching queries to the Centre on the functional safety of the power plant, a bench of justices K S Radhakrishanan and Deepak Misra also asked if any environmental impact assessment was done on the project.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on next Thursday, saying that it would pass appropriate orders after examining the issue at length.

“It is not adversarial. We are concerned with the people’s rights and interests. It is in public interest. What will be the guarantee that there will be no radio active material in it?

“In 1984 there was the Bhopal gas tragedy. But the problem of waste is still there. If there is a problem, how to meet it?” the bench asked Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman and Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, who appeared for the Centre.

The bench was dealing with the petition filed by social activist G Sundarrajan challenging the Madras high court’s decision not to impose any restraint against the plant, despite the alleged non-compliance of several safety measures recommended by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.

Appearing for the petitioner, counsel Prashant Bhushan told the bench that not only 11 out of the 17 recommendations made by the AERB were violated by the government but even minimum statutory norms like environmental assessment impact and disaster management study and measures have been overlooked for loading the fuel in the plant.

“Was any environmental impact assessment done?” the bench asked the Centre to which Parasarn nodded in the affirmative.

(Source : PTI)

SC slams poor facilities for green tribunal

The Supreme Court Wednesday pulled up the government for not providing infrastructure for the effective functioning of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that deals with environmental matters.

The court asked the government to provide facilities to its judicial and other expert members on a par with the judges of high courts.

An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya asked the government to ensure the “…effective functioning of the tribunal by providing all the facilities and amenities to the judicial Members, who are former judges of the high court at par with the sitting judges, except the element of pension, and also to the expert members”.

The court said that the judicial members of the NGT could not be treated below their status as they had been the judges of high courts or the apex court. A former apex court judge is the chairman of the tribunal.

“They (member of the NGT) must function with dignity,” said Justice Singhvi.

The court said this recounting an incident when a sick tribunal member was told that he was entitled to treatment under the Central Government Health Scheme at par with Class 1 officer of the government.

As court expressed its displeasure, Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman sought a week’s time so that he could get back with the government response.

The court in the course of the proceedings asked about the appointment of the chairpersons of the NGT and allotment of Faridkot House in central Delhi for accommodating the tribunal.

The additional affidavit filed by the government said that NGT had four judicial members and three expert members.

The court was told that department of personnel and training had approved three names to fill the slot of three expert members. The court was told that one of the judicial members had consented to join the NGT.

The court also took note of the assurance given by Additional Solicitor General A.S. Chandhiok that he would ask the department concerned to issue an order for allotment of Faridkot House to the tribunal following the court’s order dated May 3, 2005.

The court was also told that the accommodation made available to the Bhopal bench of NGT was not at all conducive to the functioning of green tribunal.

Seniors counsel Raj Panjwani, appearing for the Bar Association of National Green Tribunal, told the court that the accommodation made available to the Bhopal bench was in the “basement of a building” and it was “impossible for the tribunal to function”.

Expressing anguish that it was mislead by the state government, Justice Singhvi said: “We can’t appreciate that a misleading statement was made before the highest court that sufficient accommodation has been provided to the Bhopal bench of NGT.”

“A false affidavit was filed before the apex court. Accommodation does not mean basement,” he said.

The court ordered the state chief secretary to file an affidavit.

The court directed the listing of the matter Sep 26.