PANAJI: The National Green Tribunal has ruled that it would have jurisdiction to entertain all civil cases raising questions of inaction over protection of environment.

In an order passed on Thursday, the tribunal said that the it is indisputable and an unquestionable fact that Western Ghats are ecologically sensitive and require protection.

The government itself had appointed three different committees from time to time to find out ways and means by which the Western Ghats can be protected and its degradation prevented.

The order came on an application filed by two environmental groups from Goa – Goa Foundation and Peaceful society – who had sought a direction to the government and their agencies not to issue any consent/environment clearance or NOC of permission under Environment protection act and other acts, within the western ghats areas, particularly in ecologically sensitive zones – ESZ 1 and 2. The main prayer is for a direction to the government authorities to discharge their obligations for protection of the western ghats as enunciated by the western ghats ecology expert panel headed by Dr Madhav Gadgil in its report dated August 31 2012.

Besides union of India, among the parties named as respondents include state of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil nadu, state pollution control boards, etc.

“By inaction, naturally, there will be violation of the precautionary principle and therefore, the tribunal will have jurisdiction to entertain all civil cases raising such questions of environment”, the principal bench said in the order.

Rejecting the plea of some of the respondents, the tribunal held that it has jurisdiction to hear pleas on issues of environment protection. The five member bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar directed that the main application be listed for hearing on merits.