Green tribunal bans use of gas, electronic cutters in dismantling machinery in Delhi's Mayapuri scrap market

Orders MoEF to install scanners to prevent recurrence of radiation mishaps like the one in 2010

By Soma Basu
Published: Friday 10 May 2013

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned the use of gas or electronic cutters in dismantling heavy machinery like generators, tankers and transformers in Mayapuri junk market in west Delhi, one of India’s biggest market for used automotive and industrial spare parts.

Besides banning burning of plastics, tyres, wires or any such live materials in and outside the shops in Mayapuri, NGT has also prohibited e-waste or other materials “which are likely to generate radio activity and pose hazards to life in particular and environment generally” from being stored in the area.

To keep an eye on the compliance, NGT has directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), the Delhi Developmental Authority (DDA) and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to install scanners in Mayapuri immediately to ensure no material which has radioactivity is sold or stored except in accordance with law. The Delhi government has been told to clean up the place before July 12, the date given to file a compliance report before the tribunal.

NGT also ordered Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to ensure that materials with radioactivity are stored at places which are public, roads and open grounds. Teams of each of the departments of DDA, Delhi government, MCD, Delhi Pollution Control Committee, AERB, and Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) would conduct inspection visits to Mayapuri on regular intervals and even at odd hours to ensure that none of the directions issued by the tribunal are disobeyed. Delhi Police has been directed to depute special force to ensure the directions are implemented without delay, said the five-member bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar.

NGT had set up a six-member committee on April 6 this year to conduct inspection of the Mayapuri scrap market to ascertain steps taken by the government to prevent recurrence of the 2010 radiation leak. One person had died and seven people were injured after they were exposed to radiation when they cut open a Cobalt-60 irradiator at the scrap market in April 2010.

The committee was set up after S C Jain filed a petition in NGT, claiming that despite the April 2010 radiation leak, authorities have been unable to taken effective steps to prevent such mishaps in future. The committee submitted to the tribunal that, during its inspection in Mayapuri, it was found that radioactivity was within the permissible limits and no other burning activity was seen in open. The committee also submitted that though e-waste was stored, waste material and scrap were lying illegally outside the shops.

The petitioner, however, contested the report. He argued as far as the radio activity and burning of plastic and live wires and other materials are concerned, everybody in Mayapuri knew the committee was going to come for inspection and so took extra care to present a pretty picture. Jain filed a rejoinder before the tribunal to which he attached photographs of dismantling and cutting of huge generator sets and transformers and collection of metallic wastes as well as burning of plastic material and tyres. His rejoinder was not disputed by anybody.

The green tribunal held the conditions in Mayapuri are dismal and such activities are injurious to human health and environment as contemplated under the Environment (Protection) Act.

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