The cover story "Tribunal on trial" (November 15-30, 2014) that dealt with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) was an interesting read. I am not convinced, however, that setting up new institutions is really what India needs. I think it is more important to make the established institutions work more effectively.
Your coverage confirmed research findings of mine from the 1990s. Back then, my PhD thesis for the sociology department of Bielefeld University in Germany dealt with environmental cases of public interest litigation in Kolkata. At the time, the underlying reason for Kolkata's ecological malaise was dysfunctional governance. Far too often, urban planning and legislation were not good enough for implementation. The government agencies involved were understaffed, underfunded and overburdened. Their jurisdictions were not always clear. Failure was systemic.
I learned that the judiciary serves as a forum in which the quality of parties' arguments can matter as much as the parties' hierarchical position. The judges often proved able to tackle grievances and improve governance, but not apply Indian law because the existing legislation was not sufficient for solving the problems at hand.
The NGT is struggling with the same kind of problems. Therefore, it must be fully empowered. Unless it is entitled to suomotu action and judicial review, it cannot set right the systemic governance failure. And unless it does so, it cannot reduce the case burden of the high courts and the Supreme Court meaningfully.
The Supreme Court's directive to the National Green Tribunal to disconnect water and power supplies to those industries that flout rules and pollute the Ganga is a welcome step. The Supreme Court's intervention should act as an eye-opener for the industrialists. They should treat effluents before releasing them. The court's directions to the NGT to file a status report every six months on action taken to control pollution should also be appreciated.