CHENNAI: Former Tamil Nadu chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan has been appointed as an expert member of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Southern Zone in Chennai. An office order in this regard was issued by the Principal Bench of NGT on April 5. The serving expert member in the Southern Bench Saibal Dasgupta has been sent to Eastern Zonal Bench in Kolkata.
When Girija Vaidyanathan had initially applied for the post, Chennai-based environmental advocacy group Poovulagin Nanbargal had filed a Public Interest Litigation before the Madras High Court challenging it. Admitting the petition, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy had directed the government and Girija Vaidyanathan to file their responses in six weeks.
According to the petitioner, the NGT Act prescribes a minimum of administrative experience of 15 years including five years in dealing with environmental matters in the Central or a State government. But in violation of the provision, Girija who does not possess five-year experience in handling environmental matters has been appointed to the post, the group alleged.
Criticising the move, environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman said it was a bad decision and does not inspire confidence in the institution. “There is a case pending regarding her qualifications. But even if she were qualified, there is still the question of conflict of interest. As chief secretary, she was party to numerous policy decisions whose environmental consequences may be contested in the NGT. If Vaidyanathan does not recuse herself, her integrity comes into question.”
PIL at HC
An environmental advocacy group had filed a PIL at Madras HC saying Girija Vaidyanathan did not have requisite experience in dealing with environmental matters