New Delhi: Supreme Court judge Ranjan Gogoi today lauded the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this month saying it was a step in the direction of protecting and preserving the environment for which the apex court had taken the lead.
Addressing an event to mark the fourth foundation day of National Green Tribunal, Justice Gogoi said that the beginning to protect environment was initiated by the apex court which put curbs on mining operations in violation of environmental laws and referred to its verdict by which it held that Vedanta Group's Bauxite Mining Project in Niyamgiri hills of Odisha would remain stalled till it is approved by Gram Sabha.
"The decision of the apex court in Odisha mining rendered on April 18, 2013 would be a starting point. The fate of bauxite mining operation in Niyamgiri hills in which tribals unanimously rejected bauxite mining project was a landmark referendum.
"It was a new path for inclusive environmental growth in India. The recently started Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan is an extension of the same principle in protecting and preserving the environment. Such emerging concepts have to be accompanied by self-realisation," he said.
He said that the need of a specialised tribunal was felt since long.
"What took us so long. In 1986 in the M C Mehta case, Supreme Court felt the need of a specialised tribunal. It reiterated its views consistently but what really happened is only four years ago when the tribunal was established," he said.
He also complimented the Tribunal for its pan Indian presence in a very short span of time.
Justice Gogoi also refuted the news report that judicial officers were "unwilling" to attend an environment related function here "at the expense of work in courts".
"I came across a news item which disturbed me. There is a perception that there is an unwilling section among people sitting here and they are my judicial officers. I don't believe they would have said anything like this.
"I don't believe a judicial officer can say that he is learned enough...And therefore that the judicial officers performing duties in other fields is not a ground to term them as unwilling," he said.