“Can These Important Busy People Meet Daily?”, SC Raises Questions Over LG’s ‘Clear Landfill Sites’ Panel
The example Justice Lokur cited to drive home his point: “ Once a Chief justice of this court formed an experts committee with big guns of India like Narayana Murthy, Azim Premji etc. .etc..they could not meet even once. Then what is the purpose of forming the committee?”
Continuing its hearing on Delhi’s worsening garbage issue, a bench headed by Justice M B Lokur of the Supreme Court has raised doubts if a too “high-level” committee approved by Lt Governor Anil Baijal to frame a “workable and implementable policy” to clear the dumpsites in Gazipur, Bhalaswa and Okhla will be effective and can meet daily.
Justice Lokur told Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand who represented the LG: “We want the committee being constituted to meet every day at least for two weeks. But some of these people in your list are so important and have a busy schedule that we do not think they can meet even very often …forget every day”,
The court had on August 17 asked the LG to constitute a panel of experts and RWA members.
Remark came after the bench noted that the panel government proposed had very top level persons like Principal Secretary Urban Development (Delhi govt), Additional Secretary in Urban Development ministry, NDMC Chairperson, Commissioners of South, North and East MCD, an IIT Delhi professor, Director of solid waste management ministry of science and technology, V K Jindal, Mission Director (Swachh Bharat Mission) Govt of India. Manoj Gangeya, Director Ministry of Environment and Forests and Directors of Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) andNational Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) besides RWA members.
Justice Lokur cited an example to drive home his point: “ Once a Chief justice of this court in a sensitive case formed an experts committee with big guns of India like Narayana Murthy, Azim Premji etc. .etc..they could not meet even once. Then what is the purpose of forming the committee?”.
Remarks from Justice Lokur came after amicus curiae (senior advocate appointed to assist the court) Colin Gonsalves submitted:”I have a complaint regarding their list of names. Look at the names. They are people who cannot regularly attend meetings. The committee will not work”.
The LG has now been asked to inform the court by Thursday if he intended to make any changes after which the court will finalise the panel.
“The fact is that it is a serious problem which is getting out of hand. We want him to constitute a committee with members from civil society as members as we require the assistance of people of Delhi, we need their full cooperation. Let the LG take a call on it. He shall look in-depth into all aspects with a special focus on landfill sites”, the bench had told ASG Anand on August 17.
On August 6, continuing to slam Delhi civic authorities for having no action plan regarding solid waste management even as landfill sites were overflowing, the bench said the national capital was facing an emergency-like situation due to mountains of garbage
“How do people live? Will there be any person alive in Delhi in such a situation? the bench asked lawyers for civic agencies – municipal corporations, Delhi government and the centre.
It wanted immediate plans be submitted on segregation of household waste.
It sought details from authorities on pilot project for segregation of household waste launched in some areas like Defence Colony, Green Park and Maharani Bagh here and also about the problems being faced by the agencies in its implementation.
When ASG Pinky Anand said that in East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), the issue of having a landfill site at Sonia Vihar was being opposed by residents of the area, Justice Lokur had asked “Are you suggesting that people cannot raise this issue like what was done in 1975 that if you ask something, you will be put in jail?”
When the ASG said that they were not suggesting anything like that, the bench said, “then put it (garbage) on the Raj Niwas Marg. Do not treat people like this. In Sonia Vihar, perhaps the underprivileged people live. Lives of people are going to be affected if you will put garbage in front of their house. They have a right to say that do not put garbage in front on my house. It is a criminal offence. People will object to it. You will have to find a solution. You cannot just shift the garbage like this”
Days after serious charges leveled by a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur that he claimed to be a “superman” but did nothing to address the worsening garbage disposal problem in Delhi, Lt Governor Anil Baijal had told SC that it was difficult to find a solution overnight as the overflowing landfill sites was a “legacy problem of six decades”.
The problem of garbage mounds is a legacy problem of six decades and multiple issues as highlighted have made it a challenging task. As a result of intensive and continuous monitoring by the Lt. Governor through site visits and regular meetings and the directions and guidance given, work is already underway to address these problems in a time-bound manner in a comprehensive and sustainable way”, an affidavit filed on behalf of the LG recently said.
He said the action plan aims at gradual closing of the sites, enhancing the capacity of waste-to-energy plants and landscaping the mounds to make it scientifically safe and visually better.
He assured that no untreated garbage will be dumped at the landfill sites after 2020.
On July 13 the bench had slammed the LG for doing precious little to deal with Delhi’s worsening garbage disposal crisis and not taking any solid steps to address the issue of overflowing landfill sites and inability to find alternative sites.
The SC came down hard on the lieutenant governor after amicus curiae (senior lawyer appointed to assist the court) Colin Gonsalves informed that no one from Baijal’s office attended the last three meetings to discuss ways to clean up the city’s three landfill sites situated at Ghazipur (East Delhi), Bhalswa (North) and Okhla (South).