Taking a serious view of the non-functional or non-existent solid waste management (SWM) plants in various cities, the Allahabad High Court has directed the chief secretary to file an affidavit giving details of the funds released for such units and whether they are functional or not.
The court also asked the chief secretary why criminal action should not be recommended against officials responsible for the situation to reach such a state, where garbage collection and disposal was proving to be a problem.
A Division Bench of Justices Arun Tandon and Bharat Bhushan passed an order in this regard on August 17, while hearing a petition filed M/S A2Z Waste Management (Varanasi) Limited. The petitioner had approached the HC against cancellation of its contract for SWM by the Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN) on grounds that it has neither constructed a SWM plant nor ensured door-to-door collection of garbage in the city.
The petitioner had, however, pointed out various anomalies and problems that resulted in the situation. VNN maintained that the company stopped working since January 2014, after which the corporation had been collecting garbage and disposing it.
Passing the order, the court sought chief secretary’s response on the following issues: (a) In how many cities government money has been released for the purposes of setting up of a solid waste management plant. The names of the cities and the amount of money released as on date shall be disclosed separately; (b) How many of these plants are functional; (c) How the state and local bodies are managing the solid waste in places where plants are non-functional, and (d) why the court may not recommend criminal action against the state officers responsible for creating a situation “where the health of the common residents of the city has been put to jeopardy”.
The court said: “In our opinion not only public money has been defrauded in a planned manner, the cities are being made to become a dump of filth by these officers, including the state authorities, who actively participate in the awarding of contract and distribution of money”.
The court said that, if the facts mentioned in the petition were correct, then, in its prima facie opinion, it was a “financial scam operating in the state of UP in the matter of establishment of SWM plants plants, specifically in big cities like Varanasi, Kanpur, Meerut, Moradabad”.
The petitioner had been awarded the contract in 2010 and it was supposed to install a SWM plant within eight months of the contract. The VNN allegedly cancelled the contract after it failed to install the said plant.