Noting “definite negligence” and “intentional lack of will” on the part of all authorities, the National Green Tribunal today imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the Railways for failure to keep tracks and platforms in New Delhi clean.
Besides the Railways, the green panel also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) and North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC).
“We are satisfied that concerned authorities are at fault. If the railway authorities have engaged contractors for cleaning of tracks and platforms, one fails to understand as to why the railways failed to discharge even the supervisory function… There is a definite negligence on the part of all the authorities…If railway tracks within few kms of national capital cannot be kept clean, then it is really a sad state of affairs.
“The Railway authorities shall pay an environmental compensation of Rs 5 lakh within one week. The corporation and DUSIB shall pay an environmental compensation of Rs 1 lakh each within one week. The compensation amount would be recovered by head of departments of respective institutions after holding an enquiry,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The green panel also directed the authorities to ensure that no municipal solid waste is dumped or thrown on the railway tracks and reiterated that the Railway was empowered to impose a fine of Rs 5,000 on anyone found littering on tracks and platforms.
The Tribunal also directed Railways, NDMC and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) to place dustbins at all appropriate places as earmarked by the local commissioner.
It also warned the authorities that if they fail to ensure cleanliness on the railway property in future, the bench would resort to more “coercive” measures.
“We will burden you with one lakh of fine per day. We are of the view that taxpayers’ money should not be spent for default of the public servants,” it said.
The Tribunal’s directions came after perusing a report filed by an advocate who had inspected the stretch from New Delhi Railway via Sadar Bazar, Subzi Mandi, Azadpur and Adarsh Nagar.
The report has highlighted alleged deficiencies on the part of concerned authorities and claimed piles of garbage was found across different stretches in the national capital.
The Tribunal expressed anguish that despite the matter having been pending for more than a year and it making all possible efforts to pursuade the authorities concerned to comply with the statutory and constitutional obligations besides the orders passed by the green panel, nothing was done.
It said the collective responsibility of the authorities is to ensure that people are provided clean environment and the facts in the present case clearly show intent of shifting blame from one authority to another.
“The report of the local commisioner speaks volumes of the state of affairs…Highest in hiearchy were requested to conduct meetings and ensure that this serious health hazard and continous source of nuisance should come to end. It was expected that they would ensure when people enter the capital of the country they don’t see dirt, municipal solid waste, human defecation, dead body of animals.
“This is not what is expected of a public authortity and public department. We find merit that there is intentional lack of will on the part of authorities to carry out the directions of the Tribunal in the interest of environment,” it said.
During the hearing, advocate Om Prakash, appearing for the Railways, said he has not been provided the copy of inspection report and wanted to be allowed to file objections.
“You were there at the time of inspection, what objection you want to file,” the bench retorted.
The counsel for Railways said that on the railway stretch from New Delhi to Subzi Mandi, everything was clean “barring one or two things”. He also alleged that the Delhi government was not coopearting with the department for relocation of slum clusters located across the railway tracks.
Advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for NDMC, told the bench that the corporation has already placed dustbins at designated places and the relocation of slums was to be done by DUSIB.
The Tribunal’s direction came on a petition filed by lawyers Saloni Singh and Arush Pathania, which said the railway authorities had failed to perform their statutory duties and were indirectly responsible for causing pollution at railway properties, particularly on the tracks.
Cracking down on litterbugs, the Tribunal had earlier announced a fine of Rs 5,000 on individuals spotted littering or throwing waste on the platforms and tracks.