More than a month after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in New Delhi pulled up the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the state government for the legacy waste at Pirana landfill, the tribunal in an order passed on August 20 asked the board to clear the landfill on a war footing.
The NGT’s latest order comes after the state government filed an affidavit on August 20 stating that it has made a budgetary allocation to deal with the waste.
In its July 2 order, the NGT directed the state to immediately remedy this in a time-bound manner. “…the issue of clearing the legacy waste at Pirana must be attended to preferably within two weeks and the work to clear the legacy waste may commence preferably within one month.” The tribunal also directed that a seven-member committee be formed in this regard and further asked the state to transfer Rs 75 crore to an escrow account.
As per the affidavit filed by the GPCB on August 20, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corpora-tion (AMC) has made budgetary provisions worth Rs 50 crore for 2019-20 to deal with the legacy waste at Pirana and that the urban local body is cash-rich enough to defray the escrow account amount. To this, the tribunal directed the AMC instead of the state government to make the said deposit. They’ve further submitted, “So far, 60,000 tonnes out of about 85 lakh tonnes of waste have been cleared.” This would account for 0.7 per cent of the total waste at the landfill, spanning over three, 75-feet mountains of garbage. Notably, the submission varies from the NGT’s observation in its July 2 order that had noted that the legacy waste at Pirana had crossed “95 lakh metric tonnes”.
The affidavit also stated that it had directed four industries here to shut shop after they failed to submit satisfactory time-bound action plan regarding transitioning from furnace oil for their fuel usage to piped natural gas (PNG). While the tribunal expressed satisfaction with respect to the GPCB’s handling of the issue of clamping down on the use of furnace oil and petcoke, the bench urged it to attend to the Pirana issue “on a war footing”.
The order noted, “…What is cleared is only a fraction. The same needs to be tackled on a war footing to restore the land as well as to avoid health and environmental hazard. There is no obstacle in prompt action in this regard…Thus, prompt timeline is required.”
The tribunal directed AMC to revise its timeline of “three to five years” of clearing the dumpsite to a timeline that extends not over a year along with substantial progress made within six months. In order to save time, the tribunal reiterated that “machines and human resource can be hired as per applicable procedure, without resorting to unduly longer procedure of tenders etc. The CPCB has already prepared SOP on the subject.”
Meanwhile, the seven-member committee constituted at the behest of the NGT bench, chaired by the state’s chief secretary, has been directed to continue. “The presence of Chief Secretary in the committee is considered necessary so that prompt administrative decisions can be taken at the highest level to meet the emergency situation which has arisen on account of huge legacy waste and urgency for retrieving the land for suitable use and take care of environmental concerns,” the order read.