The Supreme Court today warned the Centre for dumping "junk" before it in an 845-page affidavit containing incomplete information about solid waste management across the country saying that the top court is not a "garbage collector".
The Supreme Court today warned the Centre for dumping “junk” before it in an 845-page affidavit containing incomplete information about solid waste management across the country saying that the top court is not a “garbage collector”. The scathing remarks by the apex court, which was hearing a matter related to implementation of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 across the country, came when the Centre’s advocate proposed to file the affidavit in the court. A bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta declined to take the affidavit on record and observed that the government cannot dump junk before it and there was no point in filing an affidavit if it contained “nothing”. “What are you trying to do? Are you trying to impress us? We are not impressed. You are trying to dump everything on us. We are not going to accept it,” the bench told advocate Wasim A Qadri, who was appearing for the Centre. “Do not do this. Whatever junk you have, you dump it before us. We are not garbage collectors. Be absolutely clear about this,” the bench said.
The court directed the government to file a chart within three weeks indicating whether the states and union territories (UTs) have constituted state-level advisory boards in accordance with the provision of the 2016 rules. It also asked the government to state in its chart the date when the advisory boards were constituted in the states and UTs, names of its chairperson and members and also details of meetings conducted by them. At the outset, Qadri told the bench that after the apex court’s December 12 last year order, the Centre had written to all the states and UTs on the issue and 22 states have given details so far. He said these details have been compiled in the affidavit.
However, the bench said, “You had framed rules in 2000 but nobody (states and UTs) implemented it. Then you came out with 2016 rules but nobody seems to be interested. When they are not following the easier norms then how will they follow stricter norms. Are states not bound by the Union of India’s advise?” “Why do you pass these kind of rules? You withdraw these rules,” the bench said.
Qadri said the main problem was non-availability of land, especially in Delhi. He said that the Delhi government had written to the Delhi Development Authority to allot land and 50 acres land was allotted to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to set up a waste to energy plant. He said that some of the states and UTs, like Daman and Diu and Dadar and Nagar Haveli, have not constituted the State Level Advisory Body (SLAB) yet.
To this, the bench said, “The UT administration comes under you. You are not able to enforce your own rules in UTs.” The counsel said that the Centre has not received details from states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Bihar while in Delhi, a body has been constituted to deal with solid waste management and two meetings have already been held. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, said that a committee in Delhi has conducted meeting and there was a comprehensive agreement between the municipal corporations and Delhi government over the issue of solid waste management. When Gonsalves said that Delhi should be a model of change for the entire country, the bench observed, “we hope not. There is terrible problem of pollution here”.
During the hearing, the bench asked the Centre about constitution of SLAB in states and UTs and its composition. When the counsel was unable to answer the queries, the bench observed, “there is no point in filing affidavits if they contain nothing. We are not taking this affidavit on record. This (affidavit) will go as solid waste. You have not seen it and you want us to see this affidavit”. The Centre referred to its affidavit and urged the court to grant them 15 days time so that they could file the details as sought by the court.
Qadri, who was also appearing for the Delhi government, told the court that a meeting of the body was held on January 12. The bench directed him to file the official minutes of the meeting tomorrow. The court had on December 12 last year 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 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.