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The Supreme Court bench, which was hearing a PIL on Solid Waste Management Rules, came down heavily on the government counsel for not fully preparing the affidavit
Hearing a PIL on Solid Waste Management Rules, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Centre Tuesday for submitting a 845-page affidavit, a document which the Court said was so bulky that the government counsel might not have gone through it.
Refusing to take the affidavit on the record, a bench of Justices, Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, termed the affidavit a ‘solid waste’ and added that the court was not a ‘garbage collector.’ The apex court was hearing a case in which it had taken suo-motu cognisance of the death of a seven-year old kid who suffered from dengue in 2015 and limited the petition to solid waste management in India as the petitioners stated that the vector-borne diseases were on rise due to poor management of solid waste.
During last hearing on December 12, 2017 the court had asked the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to submit how many states had formed state advisory boards as mandated under Solid Waste Management Rules notified in 2016.
However, the bench got angry when it saw the bulky affidavit without any chart or information given in an expected format. Moreover, when it posed certain questions to the government counsel, he could not come up with satisfactory answers. The bench wondered if the government counsel could not respond to the queries, he himself had not gone through the affidavit and had wished the court to read it.
According to Live Law, Justice Lokur remarked, “So, this is what you have brought to us. So what are you trying to do? Trying to impress us? No sorry. We are not impressed. You think you can dump anything before us... just junk go on junking. This is not done… we are not going to take it. Things cannot be this way. You better understand…see we are not garbage collectors...”
The Centre presented before the court that as many as 22 states have formed advisory boards but the justices were not satisfied. The Centre, in the next hearing, has been directed to present on record the number of states/union territories which have formed the boards and how many meetings have taken place. The next hearing is slated to be held after three weeks.
In the last hearing, the apex court had also slammed the Centre for not following up the implementation of Solid Waste Management Rules. It had stated, “It is quite clear from the above that there is no seriousness attached to the management of solid waste to the extent that even the State Level Advisory Boards has not been set up and in some cases where the Body has been set up it has not even met once in six months,” states the order dated December 12, 2017.
“Rule 22 of the Rules contains the time line for implementation. For example, identification of suitable sites for setting up of solid waste processing facilities has to be completed within one year. Similarly, door-to-door collection of segregated waste and its transportation in covered vehicles to processing or disposal facilities has to be completed within two years. Clearly, no positive steps appear to have been taken to adhere to these time lines. It may be noted at this stage that the Rules came into force on 8th April, 2016 and more than one and half years have gone by,” the Court had remarked.
The court had issued a warning of sorts to the state governments. It said in the order, “We direct the MOEF to follow up the matter with the State Governments in terms of our order and make it clear to the state governments that in case they do not provide full, correct and accurate information to the MOEF, they are likely to be burdened with very heavy costs.”
Incidentally, the National Green Tribunal had also directed the states to submit an action plan for solid waste management in December 22, 2016.