Concerned at the "dismal" state of waste management and disposal in the city, the Delhi High Court today summoned the Commissioners of the three municipal bodies asking them to explain why rules regarding garbage disposal are not being adhered to. A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Jayant Nath also sought the personal presence of the Member Secretary of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to explain whether it has prosecuted anyone for causing pollution in Delhi and the national capital region (NCR). The officials have to appear before the court on the next date of hearing on December 1, 2016. The direction came after amicus curiae and senior advocate Kailash Vasdev told the court that rules regarding solid waste management and regulation of landfill sites were not being adhered to by the municipal bodies. The bench also noted that DPCC was not taking any action against the corporations for non-compliance of the rules and sought the presence of its Member Secretary to show the court the number of prosecutions initiated or carried out by the agency under the Environment Protection Act. "Why do we have these rules? Why do we make them? The problem with India is implementation.
We cannot implement anything," the bench said and added "such a dismal state of affairs. Just rubbish and 'malba' (debris) everywhere."
DPCC, represented by advocate Sanjeev Ralli, said none of the landfill sites came up with any authorisation and it cannot order their closure as it had not given permission to set them up.
Ralli said it was the corporations' duty to stop operation of the sites once they have reached a particular height.
The court, however, did not agree with the submission and said it was the duty of DPCC, as the watchdog, to prevent pollution and it has to tell the corporations that their landfills do not conform to the norms.
The bench said if authorities like the municipal corporations and Delhi Development Authority say they cannot do anything "then why should they be there? We will remove them".
The court was hearing a PIL initiated by it on the issue of alarming levels of air pollution in the national capital. The bench said that the air quality levels appeared to be better than what they were was a couple of weeks ago. It, however, noted that the levels of suspended particulate matter was still beyond the prescribed norms. DPCC said it was due to the sunshine, wind and the temporary cessation in construction activities. Last week, the court had observed that if a person can run a marathon in Delhi, he can run anywhere and suggested measures like immediate extinguishing of landfill fires and ensuring only CNG taxis enter the national capital to improve air quality in the city. The municipal authorities, which are responsible for landfill sites, were told to immediately extinguish the fires burning in such areas as smoke rising from there would subject people to "serious health hazards" as they contain particulate matter like PM 2.5 and 10 apart from carcinogens. The corporations today showed photographs to support their claim that they had stopped the fires, but the court said it was "not satisfied" by it. The amicus curiae also rejected the corporations' claims and said that the affidavit filed by them was vague. On November 10, the court had said the alarming pollution level was literally 'capital punishment' for Delhiites who were being robbed of three years of their lives due to it. It had held the government's inaction and stubble burning in Punjab for the situation here. The court had said that the "grave" situation was leading to "decimation" of more than 60 million life years or one million deaths, which it termed as "genocide".