NEW DELHI: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu today said interim stay orders of tribunals like NGT often lead to "strangulation" of growth, and suggested that directions be issued for "facilitation".
He was speaking at the International Conference on Environment organised by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) here.
"Tribunals are doing a great job. But I would like to tell the tribunals and other regulators that regulation should be a facilitation. Regulation should not become strangulation.
"At the same time, disposal of issues helps, otherwise what will happen if you stay something for a certain period...you are staying growth. This has to be understood," he said.
In a veiled attack on the AAP-led Delhi government's odd-even road rationing scheme, Naidu said, "You cannot have better air 'alternatively' because without air, you cannot live even for a minute".
He also stressed the need of having a better public transport system in place to ensure less number of vehicles on roads.
Lauding the prime minister's Swachh Bharat Mission, the vice president said it was crucial to strike a balance between development and environment.
"We are living under the regime of LPG (Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation). But LPG and SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) must go hand-in-hand. Academic growth should not be seen as independent of environment. What nation needs is sustainable economic growth," he said.
Naidu said although Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was an important entity, it was also necessary to improve human life as "quality of life is the ultimate test of all developments".
He added that "worsening air quality, extreme water scarcity and humongous waste generation were threatening human existence and environment".
Highlighting the problem of rapid urbanisation, the vice president said people were migrating from rural areas to urban areas for better living.
"But are they having a better living?" he asked.
"People are moving to cities for education, employment, entertainment, economic upliftment and enhancement of facilities. These are the five Es driving people to urban settlements," he said.
He also voiced concern over the rising population of the country.
"Speaking about population is unpopular these days as people think you are trying to forcefully sterilise them. I am not saying this, people have to understand that land and water are same, but the population is increasing," Naidu lamented.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra said everyone has a right to breathe fresh air and drink pure water, and the tribunals, courts and governments have a "sacrosanct" duty to see that an appropriate standard of environment is maintained.
"The nature tells you every moment and warns you every moment that whatever you are doing, is being watched. The day has come when you have to care for the mother nature every day, every hour, every moment," he said.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day conference, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said environment and development were two sides of the same coin and should not be seen as dichotomies.
"Being one of the most bio diverse nations of the world, India has been on the forefront in leading and joining many initiatives aimed at ensuring environmental sustainability.
"But, now we are facing unprecedented environmental challenges. Our water bodies are getting contaminated. The aquatic environment is under threat like never before," he said.
Attorney General K K Venugopal drew attention towards the "pro-active" role of the Supreme Court in environment-related cases, and said there had been tremendous deterioration of forests due to lack of awareness on ecological issues.
"Merciless clearing of forests is being done by timber mafia. There is poaching - killing of tigers and rhinos... But the silver lining are the people who are trying to get some orders to neutralise whatever is happening. But the task is enormous," he said.
NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, who delivered the welcome address, highlighted the role of the green panel in the speedy disposal of environment-related cases.
He said till September, 2017, the panel has disposed 19,970 out of 23,341 cases at a rate of 85.5 per cent.
The function was also attended by Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin of the National High Court of Brazil, Acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Gita Mittal, and dignitaries from 35 countries.