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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday virtually put the Narendra Modi government’s pet ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ to test by asking the Centre to furnish in four weeks details of steps taken to implement the 18-monthold Solid Waste Management Rules across the country.
Central government counsel Wasim A Qadri attempted to wean away the SC from going into the critical issue of solid waste management by saying the Delhi High Court is seized of the issue.
But a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta brushed it aside saying it was dealing with the issue of solid waste management across the country and not the capital alone.
The bench referred to an affidavit filed by the directorate general of health services (DGHS) which said various vector-borne diseases, including dengue, were widespread in different parts of the country because of absence of solid waste management.
“It appears (to us) that the crucial issue is really the management of solid waste. Accordingly we propose to limit this petition only to the issue of management of solid waste,” the bench said, adding that the Centre had started enforcing Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 from April 8 last year.
Two years ago, the SC bench had taken suo motu cognisance of the public outrage after parents of a child committed suicide following his death due to dengue. Parents of seven-year-old boy Avinash, who died of suspected dengue on September 8, 2015, jumped to their deaths days later from a building after they failed to get him admitted to a hospital in the capital in time. The child was the couple’s only son and they took the extreme step after allegedly being denied admission at prominent private hospitals the previous day.
The Rules tasked ministry of environment, forests and climate change with the overall responsibility of monitoring and implementing the provisions and mandated setting up of a Central Monitoring Committee (CMC) under the chairmanship of the environment secretary and comprising officers not below the rank of joint secretary or advisor from other ministries and government bodies. The CMC is mandated to meet at least once a year to review implementation of the Rules and co-opt other experts for effectiveness of the provisions.
The bench said as the Rules came into force from April 8 last year, it must be presumed that the CMC has met at least once.