The Bombay High Court Friday asked the state government to clarify its stand on illegal dumping of waste in the city and asked it to clarify whether construction activity would be allowed in the face of illegal dumping. The HC said that if the government did not clarify its stand, it would be taken that it was party to the illegal dumping.
The HC was hearing a matter on solid waste management sites in the city. The state government filed an affidavit and stated that it had handed over land to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Airoli and Taloja, on the outskirts of the city, for setting up solid waste management facilities.
“These sites will take time to develop. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the solid waste in the city is being dumped illegally. The state government will have to clarify its stand on whether it will allow construction activity to continue. On one hand, solid waste is being dumped illegally, and on the other, more Floor Space Index (FSI) is being given to commercial and residential projects,” said Justice A S Oka.
The court asked the state to take a realistic view on the matter and pointed out that removal of encroachments from Taloja would attract several litigations.
“We have been informed that about 32 hectares under Airoli bridge was placed in possession of BMC on January 18. Similarly, out of 52 hectares in Taloja, about 39 hectares has been given to BMC. The state government says that the collector has started the process of removal of encroachments on the land and suitable land will have to be found for relocation of the people on the land,” said the HC.
The government pleader, appearing for the state government, Abhinandan Vagyani informed the court that about 12.20 hectares in Taloja would have to be acquired.
“Going by the affidavit and the established facts, Taloja appears to be a distant dream,” said Oka.
The BMC said that it would immediately start work at the Airoli site.
The court said that 9500 metric tonnes (MT) of solid waste was being generated in the city daily and as much as 6500 MT is dumped illegally. “Very shortly, the solid waste generated will increase to10,000-11,000 MT per day… With increasing construction activity, the amount of solid waste generated will also increase,” said the court.
It has now asked the BMC to file an affidavit and set a deadline on when the facilities on both the sites could be established and to specify requirement of land, taking into consideration future increase in solid waste up to 15,000 MT per day.
The HC has also asked the Advocate General to make the state’s stand on the illegal dumping of waste, contravening Municipal Solid Waste (management and handling) rules by BMC in Mumbai, clear as it was leading to health hazards. “The apex court has said that the right to live in a pollution-free environment is a fundamental right being infringed upon in Mumbai because of illegal dumping,” said the HC, keeping the matter for February 3.
For now, the deadline for operating the dumping sites at Deonar and Mulund has been extended from January 31, 2016, to the end of February.