Pulling up authorities for “lavishly”, “generously” and “ruthlessly” regularising illegal colonies, the Delhi High Court said the civic bodies and the Delhi government had “realised the repercussions only in the face of acute problems in solid waste management”, which had led to the spread of vector-borne diseases.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said that the authorities, while trying to balance right to shelter vis-a-vis right to life, had compromised on the right to life. “Why should we (residents of the capital) face dengue and chikungunya when MCDs are unable to clear garbage?” said the bench.
“It’s a malaise. This is the way the corporations work — the shortest route (to absolve themselves) is to say we don’t have money,” the bench said. Highlighting that people were not informed about the methods of waste management, the bench said: “We propose to take initiative to inform citizens.”
The Delhi State Legal Services Authority was already working on a green project — ‘Our Earth and Us’ — the bench said, adding that “eco-clubs in government schools besides RWAs could be involved in the first step towards dissemination of information”.
The bench questioned the East Delhi Municipal Corporation Commissioner Mohanjeet Singh about the number of safai karamcharis and dhalaos, to which the official informed the court that there were 296 dhalaos, 17 open dumping sites and 15,000 safai karamcharis.
“There is no reason why the dhalaos should not always be clean. The karamcharis are either not being assigned work, or not doing their duty. Fifty karamcharis for one dhalao (as revealed by the figures) is more than enough,” said the bench.
After the EDMC commissioner informed the bench that the dhalaos are regularly cleaned but people from unauthorised colonies litter the place with garbage, the bench said the corporation could take action against people for littering. The bench also directed the counsel for Delhi government to take instructions on the issue of lack of funds. It asked the Commissioner to formulate a plan of action and provide it to the counsel. The L-G can also examine the plan, the bench said. The matter will be heard again on Wednesday.
Earlier, the court had granted personal exemption to the EDMC Commissioner to attend a week-long workshop, on solid waste and sewage facilities, in Stockholm and Munich. On Wednesday, the bench asked him about the “lessons” learnt. Singh informed the court that waste was treated as a resource in Stockholm. It is utilised for various purposes like extracting bio-gas, he said.