Panchayats may face contempt proceedings
The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) will carry out fresh inspection of garbage disposal facilities in all the coastal village panchayats and municipal councils in the state. The pollution board informed the High Court of Bombay at Goa on April 19 that the exercise would be completed in eight weeks. Advocate general (AG) Atmaram Nadkarni made the submission during the hearing of a suo motu petition, through which the court has been monitoring garbage disposal in the state.
The GSPCB submission was made in response to a suggestion by Norma Alvares, a Panjim based lawyer and amicus curiae in the suo moto case. She asked the court to initiate contempt proceedings against those village panchayats in the state that have not complied with the interim orders pertaining to garbage disposal. The last date to submit compliance report for the same is May 31, 2012. Alvares had submitted to the court that GSPCB should carry out a fresh inspection of the arrangements made by all the municipal councils and coastal village panchayats for compliance with the court's interim orders.
The high court, in 2010 had directed all the village panchayats in the state to create composting facilities for bio-degradable waste within their limits and make arrangements for weekly collection of non bio-degradable waste, which includes plastics. The court had also ordered all the municipal councils to acquire land for landfill sites to dump garbage as provided in the Municipal Solid Waste Rules of 2000.
During the hearing on Thursday, the division bench comprising justices A P Lavande and U V Bakre recorded the attorney general's statement and told GSPCB to submit the inspection report on the next date of hearing—June 12.
On July 30, 2003, the high court had issued several directions for disposal of garbage as per the Municipal Solid Waste Rules. Thereafter, on October 3, 2007, the court had taken suo motu cognisance by issuing notices to 26 coastal village panchayats in the state for examining compliance to its earlier orders.
Alvares says several panchayats and municipal councils have not yet complied with court orders. She says the orders were not complied with despite high court restrictions on allowing new constructions unless the orders are complied with. “Now the high court wants to dispose the petition since it has dragged for a long time. I suggested to the high court that at least contempt proceedings should be initiated against errant panchayats that fail to comply with the orders by May 31, 2012, though they are in contempt even now,” Alvares says.
During court proceedings, she also suggested that the government of Goa should consider dissolving the village panchayats which fail to comply with the court orders before the deadline of May 31, 2012.
Alvares submitted before the court that all the village panchayats except Mandrem, Velsao-Pale, Majorda and Candolim, which have complied with the orders, be directed to file applications within 30 days for inspection of the arrangements made for compliance with the court's interim orders. Once the high court inspects the arrangements, GSPCB should inspect same and file a status report on or before May 31, 2012, she said.
The high court has already restrained the village panchayats of Poinguinim, Arambol, Morjim, Paliem, Anjuna, Calangute, Fatorpa, Betul, Benaulim and Varca from allowing new constructions without prior permission. Alvares said that the orders should remain effective till GSPCB files its report. She also suggested that the high court should issue a directive to all the village panchayats that construction permissions should be issued to commercial buildings having five or more residential units only if the developer creates own solid waste disposal facilities. Alvares has also suggested that that all the formalities regarding acquisition of garbage disposal sites should be completed within six months and land should be handed over to the panchayats by December 31, 2012.“The director of panchayats should collect and dispose of the waste every fortnight as per the arrangements made,” she said.
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