Asking whether the civic agencies “know their job”, the Delhi High Court on Thursday made the commissioners of three municipal corporations “read out” the provisions of the Municipal Solid Waste Rules, 2016.
A bench of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ashutosh Kumar had summoned the commissioners of the corporations to answer why landfill sites in the city were not being properly maintained. The frequent fires at the dumping grounds are adding to the city’s air pollution levels, the court said.
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“Non-segregation of waste is the root cause of the problem. But you are not paying any attention to the issue,” observed the bench. Under the Municipal Solid Waste rules, created under the Environmental Protection Act, the ‘local bodies’ are responsible for door-to-door collection, segregation and proper disposal of waste.
The three commissioners were, however, unable to answer the court’s query about the various provisions of the rules, due to which the irate bench asked the SDMC commissioner Puneet Goyal to “read out” the various provisions, and asked if any of the rules were being implemented.
“Read the rules. Does your landfill fulfill any criteria? If even one of the rules are getting implemented you tell us,” asked the bench, after amicus curiae Kailash Vasdev pointed out that the affidavits filed by the MCDs had stated that they could not take any steps to curb the “spontaneous fires” in the landfill sites due to methane gas emissions. “Contrary to the rules, you are dumping composite waste into the landfills,” said the bench, which refused to accept the argument that the fires were “self-generating”.
The bench also took up the issue of installation of pollution control mechanisms in the existing landfill sites, noting that “gas control system” has been installed only in Ghazipur landfill, but not at any other site.
“Somehow, we get the impression that you are: a) not aware of your duties; and b) the will is lacking,” said the bench, which also observed that the MCDs had not implemented the rules for door-to-door collection of garbage, or for segregation of waste. The court said that the segregation of waste into biodegradable, non-biodegradable, hazardous, recyclable and other categories would reduce the volume of waste going into the landfill sites. “Have you issued any directions or notifications?” asked the court. The MSW provisions also make it mandatory for all waste generators, including households, institutions, hotels, restaurants etc to separate the waste into different bins.
The bench also asked the MCDs why the rule for collection of municipal fee for collection of garbage was not being implemented, to which the Commissioners claimed that “everybody in the corporation was against it,” as the MCD elections were due soon.
The bench has directed the commissioners to create a plan of action to implement the rules regarding segregation and proper disposal of waste and management of the existing landfills.
EDMC inks MoU with NHAI
The bench was also informed that the East Delhi Municipal Corporation has inked an MoU with the NHAI to use the waste from the Ghazipur landfill for the expansion of NH- 24. However, the counsel appearing for the NHAI said they did not have any information about such an agreement. The EDMC counsel said that copies of the signed MoU were available to be submitted in court. The bench has now asked the NHAI to consider whether waste from other landfill sites could also be used.