Court panel ups the ante

G. Krishnakumar

Hazardous waste management

Contempt proceedings likely against Chief Secretary Closure of erring industrial units to be recommended

KOCHI: The Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) on Hazardous Wastes has decided to request the apex court to initiate contempt proceedings against the Chief Secretary of Kerala for the Government's failure to set up a Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) for hazardous waste management in the State.

The SCMC is likely to recommend closure of all those industries whose wastes are to be taken to the TSDF for final treatment and disposal and which do not have the expanded temporary storage. The recommendation for contempt proceedings would be included in the final SCMC report on Kerala to be submitted before the apex court in March.

Deadline over

The latest move comes after the deadline for setting up the facility ended on June 30. Coordinator of the SCMC sub-committee for Kerala Claude Alvares said on Saturday that the Government would have to approach the Supreme Court for any further petition in this regard. "We had extended the deadline earlier following a request made by the Government. But it is not possible to stretch it again. The Committee will have to ensure that its recommendations are implemented in a time-bound manner," he said. The Government had identified a 50-acre site at FACT Ambalamedu premises for setting up the facility. Dr. Alvares said that the project failed to take off despite several directions from the committee. He said that the authorities had not even set up temporary storage facilities at the site.

Earlier directive

The SCMC, after its first visit on October 2004, had directed closure of industrial units not having proper hazardous waste treatment facilities. Following requests made by the then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the Committee extended the deadline for setting up the plant. In a report, Dr. Alvares had pointed out in April 2006 that the construction of the TSDF had not begun, as promised by the Government. It was clear to the Committee that the construction of the TSDF was a low priority with the State Government and that it was not willing to put in the efforts and finance necessary to ensure implementation of the apex court's order. The report said that it was therefore necessary to appraise the apex court of the matter.