Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Meghalaya High Court asks state govt, civic authority to resolve garbage issue in Jowai

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The Meghalaya High Court has recently hoped that with the intervention of the State’s highest authorities the situation will improve on the piling-up of garbage in the town of Jowai, which posing a major problem, and may lead to health hazards.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by one Synjuk Ki Waheh Shnong complaining of household waste and general garbage not being collected in the Jowai urban township area from February 4, 2022.

It is reported to the Bench by both the State and the Jowai Municipal Board that things have improved and the State government has provided a temporary site for immediate dumping of garbage.

However, the Municipal Board submitted that objections by headmen of the local villages near the permanent site have prevented quicker removal of garbage from Jowai. The State said that the market area at Iawmusiang has been cleared and the Municipal Board says that the garbage is no longer on the streets and several lots have been loaded on vehicles and are being taken in turn to the temporary dumping site. The Municipal Board further said that several of the vehicles carrying garbage are parked beyond the city limits upon being completely covered to ensure that there is no spillage or the rain-water does not get into the garbage.

The petitioner has relied on photographs showing a prominent part of Jowai town with piled-up garbage. The photograph is said to be of May 10, 2022. Another photograph of the same day, the Court noted, showed garbage on the road, but it is completely covered by plastic or tarpaulin sheets. In the third photograph, it is shown that several trucks lined up on a street beyond town limits, presumably loaded with garbage but each truck was covered by plastic or tarpaulin sheets.

Both the State and the Municipal Board said that steps have been taken to ensure removal of garbage to the temporary site while awaiting for the objections to be resolved for a long-term solution. The Municipal Board ensured the High Court that the Health Department of the State has been roped in to ensure that there is no spread of disease from the collected garbage, whether those lying in the streets or those packed in the vehicles.

It is observed by the Court that there has to be cooperation all round to ensure a reasonable solution to the problem. It will not do for the garbage to remain piled-up on the streets for an indefinite period. Further, the lifting of garbage into trucks and the trucks being parked beyond the city limits can only be a measure taken for a day or two and cannot be continued indefinitely.

Therefore, the Court requested the headmen of the villages concerned to sit with the representatives of the State government and the Municipal Board to ensure a quick and equitable solution. The State and the Municipal Board should also keep the interests of the villagers in mind while choosing and securing the permanent site or sites. If necessary, the temporary and proposed permanent sites have to be sealed so as to insulate the villages from any spillage from the dumped garbage or seepage of rain-water contaminated by the dumped garbage, directed the Bench.

“It is hoped that the situation will improve with the intervention of the highest authorities in the State as it is a major problem in the area and may lead to health hazards, if not a catastrophe. Let the matter appear a week hence to monitor the progress that has taken place. List on May 20, 2022,” the order reads.

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