THE NATIONAL Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday ruled that a fine of Rs 5,000 would be imposed on anyone found using or dealing with plastic material in Chandigarh.
“Any person who is found to be storing, purchasing, dealing with or distributing such plastic items shall be liable to pay environmental compensation at the rate of Rs 5,000 per event,” ordered a bench, headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar.
The directions were issued during the hearing of a plea by Chandigarh resident Rishi Dev Anand, who alleged gross failure in waste management system and delay in tackling garbage disposal in the city. He had moved the tribunal, seeking directions to take immediate steps for waste management system and garbage disposal in Chandigarh for restoration of environment.
The tribunal directed the Chandigarh Administration to ensure that there was no use of plastic bags, plastic plates or plastic glasses and such allied items in the entire city. The Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) would be responsible for implementation of these directions.
Significantly, the Chandigarh Administration had imposed a ban in 2008 on manufacturing, storing, importing, selling or transporting polythene/plastic carry bags under Section 5 of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986, but failed to enforce it.
Sub-divisional magistrate Kashish Mittal said that they had been regularly conducting raids and seizing plastic in a huge quantity. “Fine will act as a deterrent and will help us in enforcing the ban,” said Mittal.
CPCC member secretary Birendra Choudhary said that they would enforce the tribunal orders.
Chandigarh, the tribunal pointed out, generates 370 metric tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW). The city has a solid waste plant having a capacity of treating 270 metric tonnes of waste. The waste is segregated at the source and is even used for fuel generation in the waste-to-energy plant, the counsel appearing for the administration told the tribunal.
However, the panel observed: “Even if we take the above as a correct factual ground reality existing in Chandigarh, it would be clear that nearly 100 metric tonnes of MSW everyday is being dumped. This will require a huge landfill site. The landfill site is to be strictly prepared in accordance with the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Rules, 2000.”
According to the applicant, the site is not prepared as per the MSW Rules, 2000, and that dumping of 100 metric tonnes of waste everyday would become absolutely difficult as the site had already reached its saturation point.
The panel directed the UT Adviser to chair the meeting within one week of the committee consisting of member secretary of the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee, member secretary of the Punjab Pollution Control Board and Haryana Pollution Control Board, head
of the department of Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, and a representative from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The committee was directed to submit a report on exact quantum of MSW that is being generated in Chandigarh, whether there is an appropriate mechanism in place for collection and segregation of MSW at the collection point. The committee was also asked to report on possible availability of another dumping site and of constructing and establishing any MSW plant or bio-methanation plant in Chandigarh or surrounding areas and progress thereof. The panel directed the committee to submit the report within one month.
Noting that Sukhna Choe was stated to be in a bad condition in terms of environment and bio-diversity, the tribunal asked the committee to direct an appropriate agency to dredge the said drain and clean it within four weeks.
The case is listed for next hearing on January 7 , 2016.