The National Green Tribunal has directed Chief Secretaries of States and Union Territories to personally appear before it with the status of compliance in respect to Solid Waste Management and Sewage Management.
An NGT bench headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel in the order passed on November 30, 2021, said, “It is necessary that Chief Secretaries continue the monitoring and interact with this Tribunal periodically by video conferencing. Accordingly, we lay down following further schedule for personal appearance of the Chief Secretaries, by Video Conferencing, with the status of compliance in respect of each of the States/UTs on the subject of Solid Waste Management and Sewage Management.”
The NGT has fixed different dates for the Chief Secretary of different states and UTs. Chief Secretaries have been asked to appear before the Tribunal on different dates of the next hearing given by it. The NGT made it clear that the data to be furnished should cover all categories of areas in the State – big cities, towns and villages.
“All the States/CPCB may undertake the process of verification of data after having interaction on video conferencing with the concerned States/UTs within one month. The Secretaries, Environment, Urban Development Department and Irrigation Department may also coordinate with the Member Secretaries of State Legal Services Authorities in all State/UTs,” the NGT said. The NGT was dealing with the issues of solid as well as liquid waste management and other related issues including pollution of 351 river stretches, 122 non-attainment cities in terms of air quality, 100 polluted industrial clusters, illegal sand mining etc have also been dealt with earlier but we propose to limit the proceedings in the present matter to two issues of solid waste and sewage management.
The NGT had viewed that proceedings in this matter need to cover Solid Waste Management and Sewage Management, these issues being crucial and required to be monitored by this Tribunal. The NGT also said that “Absence of management of waste results in adding to air and water pollution in a big way. All the legacy waste dump sites in the country need to be remediated to reduce methane gas, foul smell and leachate and also to release valuable land occupied by such sites which can be used for waste management/plantation or raising funds.”
“Waste collected must be scientifically processed and disposed of at the earliest in the interest of hygiene and public health. It needs to be ensured that instead of remediating the legacy waste sites, the garbage is not shifted to new sites which is not a solution to the problem, ” the NGT said. “It only results in shifting the problem from one place to the other without any advancement of environment protection. What is necessary is that the garbage must be finally disposed of and land reclaimed. The authorities must move towards zero garbage at the end of the day by ensuring that instead of garbage being collected and dumped, it is taken to a destination where it is finally processed scientifically and appropriately, except for reused/ recycling of such residues as is possible,” it said.
This is also the mandate of the Swachh Bharat Mission, initiated by the Central Government. Similarly, sewage has to be scientifically treated to give effect to the mandate of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 in the interest of availability of clean water in rivers and other water bodies. Central Governments programmes also provide for initiatives on these subjects,” the NGT added.