The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a fine of ₹2,232 crore on the Delhi government for damage caused to the environment due to improper solid and liquid waste management.
It has also constituted a panel under Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena to monitor the Capital’s solid waste management.
In its order on Thursday, a Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel asked the Delhi government to pay the fine within a month and credit it to a ring-fenced account from which funds would be withdrawn only for waste management.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri demanded that the amount be recovered from AAP instead of the Delhi government. Mr. Bidhuri said Delhi’s taxpayers should not have to bear this fine.
In October, the NGT had imposed an environmental compensation of ₹900 crore on the National Capital Territory for three crore tonnes of undisposed waste in the city’s three landfills. The NGT had asked the Chief Secretary to deposit the money, adding that the fine could be collected from errant officials and polluters.
“On the pattern of the compensation awarded in respect of other States (at the rate of ₹2 crore per million litres per day of untreated sewage and ₹300 per tonne of untreated legacy waste), compensation of ₹3,132 crore is liable to be levied on Delhi govt. Deducting the compensation for solid waste already levied on the Delhi government [₹900 crore], the remaining amount of ₹2,232 crore has to be paid by the Delhi government on the ‘polluter pays’ principle,” the NGT order read.
The Bench also noted that the data provided by the Delhi government on solid and liquid waste management was “incomplete”.
It said as the situation of non-compliance with the municipal solid waste (MSW) rules remained “untackled” despite monitoring by the Supreme Court for 18 years and by the tribunal for around nine years, the monitoring will now have to be done at the “highest level of the Delhi government”.
The tribunal added that this committee, like the Yamuna Monitoring Committee, needed defined targets and accountability. “Accordingly, we constitute a Solid Waste Monitoring Committee to be led by the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi,” it added.
The committee has been tasked with dealing issues related to solid waste management, including setting up new waste processing facilities, augmenting existing waste processing facilities and reducing legacy waste. Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar will be the convener of this committee, led by Mr. Saxena.
Other members of this committee include the Secretaries of various Delhi government and central ministries, the DDA Vice-Chairperson, the Director General of the Forest Department, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Chairperson, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Commissioner, District Magistrates and Deputy Commissioners of Police.
Reacting to the green tribunal’s observations, Delhi BJP working president Virendra Sachdeva said there was an “emergency-like situation” in the city regarding waste management.
When contacted, the Delhi government did not offer a response.