The National Green Tribunal has slammed authorities for failing to act on reducing solid waste and asked chief secretaries of all states and Union territories to appear before it from March 1 with status reports of their actions and immediate future plans.
It asked the chief secretaries to review their solid waste management actions within a month. The tribunal directed them to remain present with their reports on different dates, starting from March 1 at 2pm when Jammu & Kashmir chief secretary has been asked to appear.
It noted that India generates over 1,50,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day, with Mumbai being the world's fifth most waste generating city.
"Yet, only 83 per cent of waste is collected and less than 30 per cent is treated. According to the World Bank, India's daily waste generations will reach 3,77,000 tonnes by 2025. Unless the problem is tackled, its impact on health and lives of citizens can be devastating. It is high time stern measures are taken not only by those in-charge of administering law themselves but also by educating and involving the public at large," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said.
The NGT made it clear that chief secretaries will not delegate their appearance to anyone else. However, it will be open to change the date of their appearance if it is notified in advance.
It asked all states to display on their websites and portals of their pollution control boards the progress made in complying with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and Bio-Medical Waste management Rules, 2016.
"Ministry of Environment and Forests may coordinate with concerned organisations/ association of industries to indicate a programme to reduce the quantum of waste by appropriate strategies including use of less packaging material keeping in mind such initiatives elsewhere," the tribunal said in its January 16 order which was uploaded on its website Wednesday.
It directed the chief secretaries to ensure that all drains are tapped with wire nets etc and no municipal solid and plastic waste is allowed to reach rivers, lakes and other water bodies.
It also directed states and UTs to constitute in every district a special task force having three members one each nominated by the district magistrate, the superintendent of police, and the regional officer of the state pollution control.
Boards and one person to be nominated by the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority for awareness about the SWM rules by involving educational, religious and social organisations.
"It has been repeatedly laid down by the Supreme Court that public education Information Education and Communication (IEC) programmes can go a long way for protection of the environment. Such programs can be successful if network of Legal Services Authorities and Educational Institutions at every level is involved. This is possible only if such instructions are issued on the administrative side by the National Legal Services Authority and concerned Education Departments of the States," the NGT said.
The matter is listed for further consideration on July 10.
The tribunal was hearing a petition seeking compliance of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.