Heavy penalty for dumping malba and garbage in open drains and by the roadside in the city could soon become a reality.

The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday asked the civic agencies “why in addition to a meagre fine provided under the Municipal Corporation Act in this regard, the Tribunal should not invoke the “polluter pay principle” and direct payment of much higher costs on throwing garbage, malba (debris)” on roads, in drains and even by the roadside.

The Tribunal also directed the municipal corporations “to ensure and take appropriate measures so that no garbage or debris is thrown into the drains in any of the colonies of Greater Kailash, Defence Colony, South Extension and all other colonies of Delhi”.

The issue was raised before the court by one of the applicants.

Hearing a petition filed by Manoj Misra of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan and former Indian Foreign Service official Madhu Bhaduri seeking a ban on all ongoing work on stormwater drains, their restitution and removal of encroachments, the NGT also ordered the top officials of all the respondents to be present in the court for the next hearing, which has been listed for March 18.

“We direct the Member Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board, Engineer-in-Chief of the respective Municipal Corporations and Secretary, Delhi Environment Department, to be present on the next date of hearing to deliberate on the principal issue as to whether drains in Delhi should be covered and whether there should be different pipeline or drains provided for carrying the sewage,” the order said.

The green panel also ordered the Chief Executive Officer of Delhi Jal Board to be personally present for the hearing.

The petitioners have raised the issue of “destructive works” at the Kushak Drain and the reversal of conversion of land use of the Shahdara Link Drain. The petition calls for removal of any encroachment and refraining from any land conversion that may have an adverse effect on the environment and ecology of the area. While the Kushak Drain is being covered for creating parking space, the Delhi Government plans to come up with a Dilli Haat on Shahdara drain.

The Kushak drainage system is a major tributary of the Barapullah drainage basin. It drains areas in Saket, Pushp Vihar, Khidki Village and further into Chirag Delhi, Greater Kailash-1 and Defence Colony, and flows along the JLN Stadium and Jangpura before meeting the Barapullah drain opposite the Nizamuddin area.

The 11-km-long drain is maintained by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation.

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