Goa was amongst ten states and two union territories which were slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh each by the Supreme Court on Tuesday for not filing an affidavit on their policies for solid waste management strategy despite earlier directions.
The other states are Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya and Punjab with Lakshadweep and Puducherry, the two union territories, also fined.
Delhi is getting buried under mounds of garbage and Mumbai is sinking under water, but the government is doing nothing, an anguished Supreme Court said.
Expressing its helplessness over the situation, the top court lamented that when the courts intervene, the judges are attacked for judicial activism, and said what can be done when
government of the day does not do anything or acts in an irresponsible manner.
A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta referred to the recent apex court order on the powers of the Delhi government and Lieutenant Governor and asked them to inform it by Wednesday who was responsible for clearing of the three “mountains of garbage” (landfill sites) at Okhla, Bhalswa and Ghazipur in the national capital.
“You see, Delhi is getting buried under mountain loads of garbage and Mumbai is sinking. But yet, the government does not do anything. When the courts intervene, we are attacked for judicial activism. We are given lectures on separation of powers and encroachment of jurisdiction,” it said.
The bench also slapped a fine of Rs two lakh each on “remaining defaulting states/UTs” whose lawyers were also not present in the court room during the hearing, without naming these states.
“One final opportunity is given to these states/UTs to comply with the laws governing India, failing which we may have to call the Chief Secretary of the concerned states/UTs to inform us why the laws governing India are not applicable to these States/UTs,” it said and posted the matter for further hearing on August 7.
It said that the costs should be deposited within two weeks from today with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee for being used on juvenile justice issues.
“The tragedy is that more than two-thirds of the states/UTs in the country have neither bothered to comply with the orders passed by the court, nor bothered to comply with the directions given by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF). This is not only a tragic state of affairs but a shocking state of affairs, particularly since solid waste management is a huge problem in this country,” the bench said.
“What if the government does not do any work or acts in a very irresponsible manner? What should happen and who shall be held accountable? They don’t even follow our orders,” the bench asked Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni.
The ASG replied that as per the Constitution, the states will have to comply with the orders of the top court and their officers can be held accountable for non-compliance.
“The Solid Waste Management Rules came into force on or about April 8, 2016. We are two years down the line, but we are shocked to know that more than two-third of the states/UTs in the country have not yet complied with the basic requirement of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016,” the bench said.
It observed that due to the loads of garbage in Delhi, people were getting infected by dengue, malaria and chikungunya, while Mumbai was sinking under heavy rainfall.
The court noted that Haryana, Jharkhand, Odisha, Nagaland, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Andaman and Nicobar Island have filed their affidavits with regard to the policy on solid waste management.
The counsel for Sikkim, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Telangana and Daman and Diu submitted that they would file their affidavits with complete details of the policy and the solid waste management strategy during the course of the day.