India will go down under garbage one day: SC’s rebuke on solid waste management
The Supreme Court, on March 27, 2018, warned that the day is not far, when garbage mounds at the Ghazipur landfill site in Delhi, will match the height of the iconic 73-metre-high Qutub Minar and a red beacon light will have to be used, to ward off aircrafts. “We keep on passing orders but solid waste management rules are not implemented. What is the use of passing the orders, when no one is bothered to implement it? India will go down under the garbage one day,” a bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.
The apex court also asked all the states and union territories, to frame a policy for disposal of solid waste in three months. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, said the court should direct all local bodies in the country to implement the solid waste management rules in three to four months and if they failed to do so, they can be held for contempt. He said solid waste management rules are very elaborate and comprehensive and Delhi has already implemented it.
Additional solicitor general ANS Nadkarni said “Garbage mounds are like a time bomb, which we are sitting upon and the court should direct the local bodies to implement the rules”. The court then directed the secretaries of the urban development ministry in Haryana, Jharkhand, Manipur and Meghalaya, to appear on the next date of hearing and apprise it about the implementation of rules. The court was annoyed, as no counsel was available with information, indicating whether these four states have constituted state-level advisory boards, in accordance with the provision of the 2016 rules. The bench posted the matter for further hearing in the second week of July, 2018.
The bench was hearing a matter related to implementation of the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, across the country. On February 6, 2018, the apex court had warned the centre for dumping ‘junk’ before it, in an 845-page affidavit containing incomplete information about solid waste management in the country, saying the court was not a ‘garbage collector’. It had declined to take the affidavit on record and observed the government cannot dump junk before it and there was no point in filing an affidavit if it contained nothing.
The court had, on December 12, 2017, asked the centre to follow up on the matter of solid waste management with all states and UTs and furnish details before it. The court had earlier expressed grave concern over the deaths due to vector-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya and said that lack of waste management was the cause of several lives being lost across the country. In 2015, the apex court had, on its own, taken cognisance of the death of a seven-year-old boy due to dengue. He had been allegedly denied treatment by five private hospitals and his distraught parents subsequently committed suicide.