The High Court on Monday directed the government to undertake management of solid waste in villages in keeping with Swach Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-Gramin).
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation by Environmental Policy Group (EPG), a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur asked the rural development department to not only focus on construction of toilets in rural areas but begin managing the waste in a scientific manner according to the guidelines of SBM-Gramin
“Rural development department must initiate the process of waste management in rural areas which they are supposed to do under SBM-Gramin,” the bench said, seeking status report from the department.
The court also sought a report from horticulture department about management of fruit and vegetable waste generated inside fruit and vegetable mandis.
Observing that mere relocating the waste from one place to another is not essence of scientific waste management, the court said that it required to be treated and processed as well.
The EPG submitted before the bench that the Srinagar municipal corporation must desist from dumping fruit and vegetable waste at Achan landfill site and instead start processing the same inside the fruit mandis as funds were available for establishing such waste processing units.
The court sought a report from secretary horticulture department which is looking after affairs of fruit mandis.
The bench also sought a status report about funds allocated to horticulture department for creating facilities of waste management inside fruit and vegetable mandis.
Legal advisor of the EPG, Syed Nasarullah submitted in the court that union ministry of agriculture provides Rs two crore to each fruit mandi for processing of organic waste generated inside the mandis and fruit markets.
“For last three years not a single proposal has been sent to government of India to get this money,” Nasrullah said.
Moreover, Rs four to 20 lakhs, Nasrullah submitted, are available to each village for creating compost units and facilities for solid and liquid waste management.
“No proposals have been prepared from last four years by rural development department. We are happy that the High Court has now intervened into this issue. We are hopeful that judicial intervention might shake the conscience of our government officers,” Nasrullah said.
While the EPG was represented by its convener FaizBakshi, senior additional advocate general B A Dar and additional advocate general AsifaPadroo defended the government.