7 March 2023 2:39 PM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the Secretary, Municipal Corporation of Kochi to inform the court regarding the steps to be taken by the civic body for implementing the Solid Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2016, in the wake of fire at Brahmapuram Solid Waste Management Plant.The Division Bench comprising Justice S.V. Bhatti and Justice Basant Balaji, while addressing the...
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the Secretary, Municipal Corporation of Kochi to inform the court regarding the steps to be taken by the civic body for implementing the Solid Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2016, in the wake of fire at Brahmapuram Solid Waste Management Plant.
The Division Bench comprising Justice S.V. Bhatti and Justice Basant Balaji, while addressing the Advocate General, stressed on the necessity to have a holistic implementation of the Rules in the state.
"State of Kerala claims to be number one in literacy. This Bench would like to know that State of Kerala would also be number one in protecting environment and implementing Solid Waste Management and Handling Rules. This cannot be accomplished by a parcel of accomplishment either in a Corporation or a Municipality, or a Grama Panchayat. There are enough number of water bodies in State and the pathetic woes of these water bodies no one is listening to. All water bodies are now converted as dump sites. This is possible to be prevented only when all the local authorities concerned with protecting the water bodies are issued proper directions," the court observed.
The court made the observations in its order in the suo motu case initiated by it in relation to the fire at Brahmapuram Solid Waste Management Plant. Justice Devan Ramachandran had earlier written a letter to the Chief Justice in this regard, seeking the court to intervene in the matter.
When the matter was taken up earlier today, the Advocate General informed the court that the Government was "alive to the incident at the Municipal Solid Waste Management and handling those plant – Brahmapuram", and that steps were being taken to address the emission problems.
The Court had thereafter directed the Pollution Control Board Chairman, Pradeep Kumar AB, and the Secretary of the Kochi Corporation, M. Babu Abdul Khader, to be present in the afternoon.
When the matter was accordingly, taken up in the afternoon at 1.45 P.M., both the Chairman of the PCB as well as the Secretary of the Corporation submitted that amelioration steps were taken from the time the incidents had occurred. The Secretary, referring to the inputs received from the field staff at the site, stated that the fire at the facility had been completely brought under control, and was also put out by 100%.
The court recorded the submission made by the Secretary that he would be placing a status report before the court as well as his willingness to participate in the proceedings for proper implementation of the Rules 2016.
The court also took note of the directives issued by the PCB including the delegation accorded to one of the officers of the regional office of the PCB to initiate prosecution against the persons responsible. Adverting to the prosecution, the court made it clear that no parties ought to get into parallel litigations without addressing the issue first.
"If any person has committed a breach of law, that can be taken care of at the appropriate stage of these proceedings. However, this observation will not stop the Pollution Control Board from completing the formalities viz., issue of notice, required to be undertaken before initiating the prosecution," it observed.
The Court also impleaded the Additional Chief Secretary, Local Self Government Department, Government of Kerala, as an additional respondent to the case.
"The idea in impleading the the Local Self Government Department is to consider issuing directions to the said authority, so that the said authority in the exercise of its power can not only issue directions to the local bodies, but also ensure due and proper implementation in establishing the facilities required under the Rules. The personnel who are looking after the implementation of these Rules by our subsequent orders will be enabled, to on a case to case basis, impose penalty on erring establishments, individuals and also common facilities," the Court noted.
The Special Government Pleader Unnikrishnan was directed to inform the Additional Chief Secretary to be present online in court tomorrow. The Court further directed the Registry to tag the other connected cases in relation to the present suo motu case.
The newly added additional respondent, the Chairman of PCB, the Secretary of Corporation of Kochi and the District Collector were also directed to be present the next day.
The matter will be taken up for further consideration tomorrow at 1.45 P.M.
Case Title: Suo Motu v. State of Kerala & Ors.
Click Here To Read/Download The Order