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National Green Tribunal issues a slew of directions for management of waste

The National Green Tribunal has issued a slew of directions for management of waste.

The bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel,Justice Sudhir Agarwal, Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi, Dr.A.Senthil Vel, Dr.Afroz Ahmad heard a suo moto application to monitor the Compliance of Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules.

The issues of solid as well as liquid waste management are being monitored by this Tribunal as per orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court order dated 02.09.2014 in Writ Petition No. 888/1996, Almitra H. Patel vs. Union of India &Ors., with regard to solid waste management and order dated 22.02.2017 in W.P. No. 375/2012, reported in (2017) 5 SCC 326,Paryavaran Suraksha vs. Union of India, with regard to liquid waste management. Other related issues include pollution of 351 river stretches, 122 non-attainment cities in terms of air quality, 100 polluted industrial clusters, illegal sand mining etc. have also been dealt with earlier but currently proceedings are confined to two issues of solid waste and sewage management.

In continuation of earlier orders on the subject, the compliance status in Chandigarh was last reviewed by the Tribunal on 18.08.2022 in the presence of Advisor to the Administrator, UT Chandigarh.Thereafter, in the light of order dated 01.09.2022 passed in the case of State of West Bengal, the Tribunal noted that the quantum of compensation needs to be determined for restoration measures in light of order dated 01.09.2022 passed in the case of State of West Bengal.

Accordingly, notice was directed to be issued vide order dated 07.09.2022 to the UT of Chandigarh and other States/UTs where the proceedings were earlier closed to respond to the proposal for further directions on the pattern of order dated 01.09.2022 in the case of West Bengal.In response to the above, Advisor to Administrator, Chandigarh has filed a status report on 17.05.2023 and appeared in person through VC with other Senior officers as noted in the appearance. The NGThave interacted with Advisor to the Administrator and considered the response which we proceed to analyse.

From the Data filed the NGT noted that out of 8 lakh MT legacy waste, 2.5 lakh MT has been remediated. Remaining legacy waste remains to be remediated. It is stated that work plan with funds are firmed up for the purpose. Processing plants of 550 TPD are proposed to be set up at Chandigarh for processing of waste on day to day basis. Current generation of waste is 588 TPD while processing is only 120 TPD (80 TPD dry waste). Thus, there is gap of 468 TPD which is further adding to legacy waste. With regard to sewage management, gap is to the extent of 133 MLD. Generation of sewage is 220 MLD and actual treatment as per standards is only to the extent of 87.6 MLD.

During the hearing, it is submitted that compensation need not be levied on Chandigarh as it has already allocated requisite funds are readily available and works are in progress. To bridge the above gaps, estimated amount of Rs. 282 Crores may be kept in a separate account as the NGT was informed that adequate funds are available with the Administration for the purpose and is to be utilized during the year 2023-24.

Critical issues to be addressed include :-

(i) utilisation of treated sewage for non-potable purposes, particularly agriculture, avoiding discharge into rivers or water bodies.

(ii) performance based O&M mechanism for STPs

(iii) preventing mixing of current waste with legacy waste and bio-remediating both

(iv) identifying and authorizing the endusers/ destination of processed waste. The Chandigarh Administration may also benefit itself by studying models in other States and orders of this Tribunal in respect of other States, the NGT obsrved.

With regard to the issue of compensation for past violations beyond laid down timelines, the NGT accepted the prayer of Advisor to Administrator that instead of levying compensation, the Administration itself may ensure availability of funds at least to the extent of Rs. 282 Crores by transferring the amount in a separate ring-fenced account, to be operated as per
directions of the Advisor to Administrator. This will not debar incurring expenditure over and above the said amount of Rs. 282 Crores, if found necessary for solid and liquid waste management.

Directions:

i. Installed capacity of 8 existing/upgraded and renovated and new STPs be fully utilized to their capacity and made compliant with the standards preferably within four months.

ii. Treated water be utilized for secondary purposes, including industries and irrigation. If necessary, conveyance/distribution system be laid preferably in next six months.

iii. Gap in waste processing be plugged by setting up of additional facilities to process bio-degradable and non-biodegradable and other waste estimated to be 468 TPD, preferably within four
months along with the legacy waste of 5.5 lakh MTs.

“Six monthly progress reports in the matter may be filed with the Registrar General of this Tribunal by e-mail as directed in the case of West Bengal quoted above for review at appropriate time. If found necessary, RG may place the matter before the Bench for further directions”, the NGT further directed while closing the proceedings.

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