NGT pulls up Kerala for failure to comply with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

Huge task: About one lakh cubic metres of old waste has to be biomined from the dumping site at Brahmapuram. File photo  

The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has pointed out that the officers concerned in Kerala have paid only lip service to the issue of compliance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, despite receiving several orders from it in the last two years.

“There is thus a clear governance deficit which needs to be urgently remedied at the appropriate highest level in the State. There is failure to enforce environmental laws,” observed the Bench comprising Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chairperson, S.K. Singh, judicial member, and Nagin Nanda, expert member.

“There is no meaningful action for complying with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 (SWM Rules) and handling of solid waste in spite of repeated directions in the last two years,” the Bench said in its latest order in the case related to the unscientific handling of waste at the Brahmapuram yard of the Kochi Corporation.

The Bench warned that it may have to adopt coercive measures as per law, including prosecution of the officers concerned, unless prompt action was initiated.

“Least expected is placing of order for execution of legacy waste bio-mining, landscaping of the area and plantation, development of bio-diversity park, rectification of the compost plant, continuous monitoring by the Secretary, Urban Development and quarterly review by the Chief Secretary,” it said.

The Bench recalled that the parameters of environment were not being met at Brahmapuram going by the samples tested by the State Pollution Control Board.

“The Municipal Corporation is still continuing unauthorised operations. Work is yet to start for bio-mining. Compensation has been assessed but not recovered. Windrow composting plant is in dilapidated condition. The affidavit of the Chief Secretary does not show that any effective action has been taken on the ground. Thus, the situation is far from satisfactory. One wonders whether the officers dealing with the matter lack competence or their Constitutional obligation to provide a clean environment to the citizens,” it said.

The Bench said that the failure to uphold environmental rule of law was no different from maintaining law and order and protecting the citizens against crimes.

“Continuing violation of environmental norms is not only a violation of the rights of citizens but also has potential for damage to public health. Long stories of all round failure of the administration are poor substitute for good governance required to enforce environmental rule of law for protection of public health and the environment. The fact remains that the administration is patently a failure in protecting citizens’ right to clean the environment, which is in no way less important than the right to live in a crime-free environment,” it said.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 6:37:10 PM |

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