The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed an environmental compensation of ₹900 crore on the Delhi government for undisposed waste in the three landfills of the city which is to the extent of 3 lakh metric tonnes.
The tribunal said that there is “serious” violation of rights of citizens and “failure” of public trust doctrine to protect environment and public health by the authorities concerned, including the Delhi government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
“Following the pattern adopted in respect of other States, we hold the NCT of Delhi liable to pay environmental compensation of ₹900 crore having regard to the quantity of undisposed waste which is to the extent of 3 crore MTs at three landfill sites,” the NGT order read.
“This amount has to be used for restoration measures to recover the land which is of 10 times the value,” it said.
The Delhi government can raise funds in “appropriate manner” from the generators of waste, violators, erring officers, corporates, as per the order.
“This is in breach of constitutional and human rights of citizens of Delhi who are forced to breathe polluted air, accept contaminated water and face other health and safety hazards,” the order read.
The NGT also said that the public land of 152 acres is occupied by the waste dump site and its price even at conservative rate is more than ₹10,000 crore at applicable circle rate.
Retrieve public land
“However, the market value may be much more. There is thus, urgency to retrieve the said public asset for the beneficial public use,” the order said.
Meanwhile, the Lieutenant-Governor’s Secretariat said “bold decisions, out of box ideas, innovative steps and constant monitoring” by L-G V.K. Saxena had started showing results with ‘legacy waste’ at landfill sites in the Capital.
The Delhi government said in a statement that “we are studying the order”.
According to the L-G’s Secretariat, the total ‘legacy waste’ at the three landfill sites in Delhi – Okhla, Ghazipur and Bhalswa – was down from 229.1 lakh MT in May this year to 203 lakh MT in September with 6.52 lakh MT ‘legacy waste’ being disposed of every month since the month of June by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
“Total legacy waste at the three landfill sites, that stood at 280 lakh MT in mid-2019, came down to 229.1 lakh MT in May, 2022, effecting a disposal of 50.9 lakh MT in three years at the rate of 1.41 lakh MT per month,” Raj Niwas stated.
“The process of remediation/disposal received a major impetus after L-G Saxena, took over and visited the landfill sites issuing on-site instructions to the MCD for flattening of the garbage mounds in a mission-mode,” the statement said.
It also pointed out that Mr. Saxena had personally visited the landfill sites on several occasions to inspect and oversee work being undertaken with his Secretariat monitoring the progress on a daily basis.