NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal today slapped a Rs 50,000 fine on a scientist from the Environment Ministry but withdrew it later, warning officials against passing the buck on matters relating to the cleaning of Ganga.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said in future any such act will follow a penalty of Rs 50,000, adding it felt “very sad” on the way this important issue was being treated by the bureaucrats.

The bench’s reaction came after a scientist appearing for the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) failed to answer its query on what would be the minimum flow required for the river.

“He refuses to answer the same which we find totally undesirable. A scientist working with MoEF is expected to know basics of environment… Why did you come here if you know nothing? Don’t waste the time of five judges,” the bench said.

The bench imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the official but later withdrew its oral order, saying “we are leaving you today.”

When the same question regarding the minimum flow of the river was posed to the counsel appearing for the Ministry of Water and Resources, he also failed to answer.

The tribunal asked how was the ministry planning to control pollution in Ganga if it did not know the basics. “The tribunal is feeling very sad that you all (officials) are treating it in such manner,” the bench said.

It said that “everyone comes here from every department and says that he knows nothing. If any officer says in this court that he is not supposed to know and it is someone else’s responsibility, this will be the order (Rs 50,000 penalty).”

The green court also cancelled a bailable warrant issued against Kanpur municipal commissioner after his deputy appeared before the court.

The bench, however, directed the official to make sure that counsel and concerned official remained present before it during the hearing of the matter.