The National Green Tribunal has passed a slew of directions to ensure compliance of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 by state governments.
The directions include appointment of former high court judges in every state to oversee the execution of the tribunal's orders and personal appearance of chief secretaries of all states and union territories before the Tribunal for reviewing progress of the action plan.
"Merely passing of orders, without their execution defeats the object for which NGT was set up," the order noted.
The four member bench headed by Justice A K Goel took note of the 2018 annual report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and frequent complaints brought to the green court on disposal of solid waste to observe that its orders were not implemented.
According to the tribunal, despite its own previous interventions and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission, the situation remained a mounting challenge. Even as India generates over 150,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day, only 83% is collected and less than 30% is treated, noted the order dated 16 January.
Timelines of two years according to the SWM Rules have already expired as rules came into force in April 2016 and timeline of three years is going to expire in April this year. .
The tribunal has warned state governments that as per the 'polluter pays' principle, damages may be recovered from concerned officers for failure to meet deadlines and a performance guarantee may also be required if there is no improvement.
The tribunal had in August 2018 constituted an apex monitoring committee, regional monitoring committees for Northern, Southern Eastern and Western zones to ensure compliance of SWM Rules including at or around railway platforms, railway tracks, bus stands or other public places. Committees at each level were tasked with ensuring specific goals for compliance.
On 4 December, the tribunal held an administrative interaction with all the members of apex and regional monitoring committees. However, the tribunal, dissatisfied with the progress made by regional committees, has now appointed a retired high court judge for every state and union territory.
The bench directed CPCB to prepare a Standard Operating Procedure after considering successful modes for bio-mining so legacy waste can be disposed of within a month.
District Collectors have been directed to meet monthly and submit a report to State Urban Development Department and the State Level Committee.
Significantly, every state and union territory is directed to constitute a Special Task Force (STF) in every District of 3 members one each nominated by District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, Regional Officer of the State Pollution Control Boards in concerned Districts and one person to be nominated by the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) for awareness about the SWM Rules, 2016 by involving educational, religious and social organizations including local Eco-clubs.
The tribunal has also summoned chief secretaries of all states and union territories to personally appear before the bench and review the situation. Specifically, the top bureaucrat is expected to update the status of identification and development of Model Cities and Towns in the state in the first phase which can be replicated later for other cities and towns of the state.
"It is made clear that Chief Secretaries may not delegate the above function and the requirement of appearance before this Tribunal to anyone else," the order noted.
The chief secretaries are to be present before the tribunal from 3 March to 2 May.