Warns officials of contempt proceedings, adjourns hearing till Thursday

Observing that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the State government have “practically done nothing” in the past two weeks to address the garbage problem, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday indicated that it would initiate contempt of court proceedings against senior officials for not adhering to various directions issued by the court in this regard earlier.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B.V. Nagarathna also directed BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel and Urban Development Department Principal Secretary Amitha Prasad to be present even on November 22, the next date of hearing on public interest litigation petitions complaining about the piles of garbage on Bangalore roads.

‘You have done nothing’

“Even inefficiency has some bounds. For the past two weeks, you have practically done nothing. The top bureaucracy [Ms. Prasad and Mr. Goel and other officials were present in court] is sitting here. What is more important to them than this issue concerning Bangalore city? We are not issuing any threat… will initiate contempt and put them behind bars if they are fiddling, affecting their careers. If we put top people behind bars, things will work,” the Bench observed.

The Bench also observed that that looking at what has been happening, “it is obvious that there is a concerted effort to see that the [services of] existing contractors are continued”.

When Mr. Goel sought to make submissions personally, the Bench refused to hear him stating that he had been personally heard enough two or three times during earlier hearings, and that was “not really helping”.

“Too much information hides something essential,” the Chief Justice said when Ms. Prasad listed out various developments that had taken place and the proposals on hand to address the issue. She admitted that an action plan to deal with the garbage issue was lacking.

When the Court was informed that the new contractors would begin work only from December 1 instead of November 15 as indicated earlier, the Bench observed that half of the Bangaloreans would be unwell in one month in the event of outbreak of diseases.

“We have no faith in them. But what shall we do,” the Bench remarked when counsel for the petitioners complained that councillors and politicians were interfering and delaying many processes, including new contractors taking over garbage collection.

‘Why so many?’

When government counsel submitted that 42 sites had been identified for waste disposal, the Bench questioned why the government was identifying so many places when the order was for identifying only five sites. Then the Bench was told that five sites at Anekal, Jigani, Bidarahalli and Sarjapur Road in Bangalore and Gudibande in Chickballapur had been identified for waste disposal.