NGT Imposes ₹ 1 Crore Fine On Kochi Municipal Corporation For Lapses In Solid Waste Management [Read Order]
The lapses of Kochi Municipal Corporation in solid waste management have invited the ire of National Green Tribunal. The Principal Bench of the Tribunal at New Delhi has imposed a fine of Rs. One Crore on the Corporation for its delay and indifference in carrying out solid waste treatment in accordance with Solid Waste Management Rules 2016. The fine amount is to be deposited in equal halves with the State and Central Pollution Control Boards.
The Tribunal found that the Corporation's solid waste management plant at Brahmpauram was functioning in violation of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, and that leachate generated from the plant was contaminating nearby waterbodies.
Referring to the report filed by the Environmental Engineer of the State Pollution Control Board, the Tribunal observed that "solid waste treatment and disposal facility of Kochi Municipal Corporation was found to be operating in violation of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 in as much as leachate from the processing farm was being discharged with the storm water drain constructed around the proposed vermi composting building that drains into the Kadambrayar River. Contaminated effluent was holding in the land area near the leachate collection area which was suspected to have surfaced due to settlement of floor".
The Tribunal bench comprising Judicial Memeber S P Wangdi and Expert Member Dr.Nagin Danda also observed that "no interest had been shown by the respondent, Kochi Municipal Corporation, to provide treatment of the leachate".The Tribunal had appointed an advocate commissioner for site inspection, whose report revealed the alarming conditions there. "The record is replete with manifestation of total lack of interest and casual approach on the part of the Municipal Corporation", observed the Tribunal on the basis of advocate commissioner's report.
The Tribunal also noted that the Corporation was lackadaisical in its approach to establish a new treatment plant in accordance with 2016 Rules. Though a contract had been entered with the concessionaire into on 07.02.2017, land transfer was made only on 26.02.2018 which is more than a year after contract had been entered into. Other than laying foundation stone and undertaking other peripheral works, nothing further obviously appeared to have been done, observed the Tribunal. Although Consent to Establish had been obtained from the SPCB on 30.08.2018, no application has been submitted for Environmental Clearance, the Tribunal further noted.
"The above facts and circumstances of the case undeniably reflect the indifferent attitude on the part of the Kochi Municipal Corporation totally disregarding the severe and adverse effects of the huge quantity of solid waste being dumped at the site in the manner it is being done", held the Tribunal
Therefore, the Tribunal directed the Corporation to complete the entire process of establishment of the new integrated solid waste treatment processing plant, within a period of six months. The Corporation was also directed to undertake treatment of the leachate waste at Brahmapuram Yard in accordance with the procedure laid down under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. For the inordinate delay caused in taking up the work, a penalty of Rs. 1 Crore was imposed upon the Municipal Corporation. The Corporation was further directed to deposit a Performance Guarantee of Rs. 3 Crores with the SPCB within a period of 15 days from hence. Failure to maintain this timeline prescribed will result in forfeiture of the Performance Guarantee and additional penalty of Rs 2 lakhs per day until completion of the project.
The Tribunal was considering applications filed by Jith Kumar, Abdul Basheer and Lawyers Environmental Awareness Forum(LEAF), filed through Advocates Varghese Paul and John Mathew against the functioning of the Brahmapuram plant in violation of norms.
The matter has been posted next to May 2, 2019 for verifying compliance by Corporation.