Segregate waste at household level, penalise offenders: SC

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New Delhi : Suggesting segregation of solid waste at the household level, the Supreme court on Monday said there should be a penal provision for dealing with those refusing to do so.

Noting that 3,600 tonnes of solid waste is generated every day in south Delhi alone, a bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta said: "Make it the responsibility of the householder to segregate the waste at the household level. Responsibility has to be fixed."

Allaying the apprehension that its suggestion to penalise may cause panic, Justice Deepak Gupta said: "I am not saying that people living in JJ colonies be penalised for not segregating waste but surely others."

If someone pulls down his house, he must pay for removing the debris, the bench said with Justice Gupta observing: "Everyone knows when they have to take benefits; when it comes to duty they feign ignorance."

The court said that 50 per cent of the 3,600 tonnes of filth generated in south Delhi is added daily to the already piled-up garbage and the power plant which could use this waste for generating electricity will get operational only in December 2019.

Pointing to the frightening scenario, Justice Lokur said: "We are in an emergency situation and unfortunately your response is not showing emergency."

"You are talking about 2030. Half of the people won't be alive (by then). A report by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (in Delhi) says that 50 per cent of the population in Delhi will be susceptible to lung cancer even without smoking. NITI Aayog says that 50 per cent of the population will leave Delhi as there won't be any water. Who will be alive?" Justice Lokur asked while pointing to the grim scenario.

Justice Lokur told the official of South Delhi Municipal Corporation that there was a mismatch in what they were telling the court orally and what they have said in their affidavit.

Taking a dig at the claims and the figures cited by the municipal bodies, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves pointed to the corruption in the handling of the garbage. He told the court: "Waste is the biggest business possible. Money is the key."

Describing the official data as "misleading," Gonsalves told the apex court that trucks carrying waste from Delhi, instead of going to the power plant, empty the garbage into the landfill.

As ASG Anand told the court that a site has been identified at Sonia Vihar for dumping the waste, Justice Lokur said: "There is no point in shifting the garbage from one place to another."

Saying that probably Sonia Vihar is a place where underprivileged people are living, Justice Lokur said: "Don't treat people like that" and remarked that "dump it before the Raj Nivas".

He said that dumping garbage near the human habitat is a criminal offence under Section 133 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Questioning the management of garbage by the municipal bodies, Gonsalves said that 60 per cent of the solid waste can be used for power plant, 20 to 25 per cent recycled, and the remaining for making compost.

The court sought details and results of a pilot project for garbage handling in Green Park, Defence Colony and Maharani Bagh.

Posting next hearing for August 17, the court said all the details be filed by August 14 and copies of the same supplied to other counsel appearing in the case.