On Tuesday, the Supreme Court expressed concerns over indiscriminate dumping of bio-medical waste by some private hospitals, near open forests areas in Delhi, especially amid the Covid crisis.
While hearing an application moved by DU law student, Harshita Singhal, the bench comprised of Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and MR Shah observed,
"The tracking of biomedical waste generated; collected; processed and recycled needs to be improved urgently by adopting the bar-code system, as specified in the [Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling)] 2016 Rules which has not yet been implemented completely."
The intervention application was moved in a writ petition of 1985, titled MC Mehta v. Union of India & Ors.
Finding three private hospitals to be operating without the bar code system, the bench directed the concerned authorities to hold a meeting forthwith and take immediate measures to clear the bio-medical waste.
"Let a meeting of the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Pollution Control Board and EPCA and the requisite stakeholders of the concerned Departments of the Central Government and Delhi Government and National Capital Region, including the representatives of the Corporations be called for urgently within three days from today and steps be taken with respect to clearing bio-medical waste of various hospitals and that of Corona patients," the order states.
The Court has also directed the hospitals concerned to ensure that bio-medical waste is not dumped in the open area and is properly segregated and disposed of.
"Let a concrete action plan be prepared in this regard with respect to bio-medical waste and be submitted to this Court before the next date of hearing," the court directed.
The Court also considered other environmental issues that were previously raised on the petition.
On the issue of massive air pollution and smog in Delhi, the bench was "literally shocked" at the attitude of the Government with respect to installation of Smog Towers.
"It was directed that the smog towers be installed within three months, but unfortunately, neither the Agreement has been entered into nor the requisite drawings have been obtained. The affidavit that has been filed is so much laconic and it is painful to note that the real intention is not to comply with the order of this Court and there is absolutely no respect shown to the order passed by this Court and for compliance of the order passed by this Court by the concerned respondents," the bench remarked.
In its order dated January 13, 2020, the Top Court had asked the Delhi Government to complete the installation of the proposed Smog Tower at Connaught Place within three months. Further, directions were issued for installation of a similar tower at Anand Vihar.
Shocked by absolute disregard of its orders, the bench has directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Delhi Government to enter into an agreement, "positively within seven days" and place a compliance report on the next date of hearing, i.e., July 29.
"In case the aforesaid directions are not complied with, we direct the personal appearance of the Secretary to the Government, MoEF and the concerned Secretary to the Govt. of NCT of Delhi on the next date of hearing, to explain as to why they have not complied with the order passed by this Court so far."
So far as piling of garbage by the sides of Railway Tracks is concerned, the bench has asked the Railway Department as well as the Municipal Corporations to submit an action plan on the next date of hearing.
"It is made clear that if the action plan is not submitted within the stipulated time, appropriate action will be taken against the concerned individuals," the bench said and listed this aspect of the matter for hearing in first week of August.
Case Title: MC Mehta v. Union of India & Ors.
Case No.: WP (C) No. 13029/1985
Quorum: Justice Arun Mishra, Justice Vineet Saran and Justice MR Shah