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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday took the Centre to task for not taking action to enforce garbage management rules and refused to accept its voluminous report, calling it nothing but solid waste which could not be dumped on the court.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said the Centre had not been able to implement its own law framed in 2016, leading to huge pile-up of garbage across cities causing vector-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya. It said the government had failed to persuade states to appoint state-level advisory board for monitoring and implementing the rules.
As the bench raised query on how many states had appointed the committee to implement the law, advocate Wasim A Qadri, appearing for the Centre, placed a report of 845 pages containing the response of various state governments. The bench, however, refused to accept the report as it did not contain detailed information on implementation of the law and said the report is “solid waste”.
“If you want to impress us with the voluminous report then we are not impressed. If you want to dump it on us then we would not allow you. Let us make it clear to you that we are not garbage collectors,” the bench said and directed the Centre to file a report in tabular form on stage of implementation of law in states and UTs.
Favouring strict implementation of the 2016 rules, the SC had on the last date of hearing directed all states to comply with the law and asked the Centre to collect information from all states and UTs on whether they had set up bodies to frame policy on waste management. It had said that there was no lack of funds as Rs 36,000 crore had been earmarked under Swachh Bharat Mission but there was lack of initiative and willingness on the part of state governments to resolve the problem of garbage management.
Compiling the responses of 22 states, the Centre filed the report and told the bench that it was for the state governments and municipal bodies to enforce the law and the Centre cannot compel them in a federal structure.
The bench, however, was not satisfied with his response and said, “It means that you are admitting your own failure. Why do you pass rules which you cannot enforce. You should better withdraw the rules.”
As per government estimates, 62 million tonnes of waste is generated annually in the country out of which 5.6 million tonnes is plastic waste, 0.17 million tonnes is biomedical waste, 7.90 million tonnes of hazardous waste and 15 lakh tonne of e-waste. Municipal bodies collect 43 million tonnes every year, out of which 11.9 million tonnes is treated and 31 million dumped in landfill sites. It means that only about 75-80% of the waste gets collected and only 22-28 % of this waste is processed and treated.
The Centre had in 2016 modified the rules after a gap of 16 years and made provisions for timely collection and disposal of garbage, including establishing waste processing facilities by all local bodies in cities having 1 million or more population within two years.