DEHRADUN: Taking a strict stand on solid waste management in the state, Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday remarked that the whole state has become a large garbage dump.
Outlining that it is the constitutional right of all persons to be provided with a clean environment, the division bench comprising Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe remarked, “It is something that we can take notice of, since we see mounds of plastic waste collected within the municipal limits of the towns, as well as along the highways, in rivers and rivulets, meadows and plains, glaciers, and even in fields in the State.”
Further stating that it is evident to the bench that any restrictions regarding the dumping of the waste into the open have only remained on paper, and no significant, effective or perceptible effort has been made by the State to enforce the same on the ground, the bench in the order said that environmental degradation is directly impinging on the Right to Life of the people in the State, which is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
“It is something that we can take notice of, since we see mounds of plastic waste collected within the municipal limits of the towns, as well as along the highways, in rivers and rivulets, meadows and plains, glaciers, and even in fields in the State,” said the court.
Expressing its disappointment the court said that it fails to understand how the statutory authorities in the state – the Commissioners, the District Magistrates, the executive officers of the municipalities of the local bodies, the authorities in the state pollution control board, and the police – can be so insensitive, and how they can shut their eyes to what is evident for all to see throughout the state.
The HC especially pointed out the condition in rural areas of the hill state remarking that solid waste, on account of the use of plastic, is rampant in all rural areas of the state.
The court issued multiple directions to the state government authorities directing all the district magistrates in Uttarakhand to launch awareness campaigns about the Environment (Protection) Act as well as the Uttarakhand Plastic and Other Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Regulation of Use and Disposal) Act, 2013 and other rules and guidelines regarding plastic and solid waste management so that the public at large are sensitized about the need to manage plastic waste in a proper manner to prevent environmental degradation.
The HC also noticed an ‘utter non-compliance’ of the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018 and ‘hardly any registrations obtained by producers, importers or brand owners with the State Pollution Control Board.
The court directed that those producers, importers and brand owners who do not register with the Uttarakhand State Pollution Control Board within the next fifteen days be banned from producing, importing, or selling products of their brands in the state and to ensure that all such products, which are contained in plastic sachets or pouches or packaging are not permitted to enter the boundary or to be sold into the state.
The court directed the state government officials to file a detailed affidavit within five weeks of time listing their efforts to contain the menace of plastic waste as well as compliance of rules and guidelines regarding the implementation of laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to the issue as well as roping in of State Legal Services Authority in the said awareness program.
The PIL was filed by one Jitendra Yadav.
Dushyant Mainali, counsel for the petitioner told The New Indian, “We have requested the court to take note of the mismanagement of the solid waste, plastic waste not being treated, disposed of by due procedure prescribed in the law. Hope things will change from now onwards for good.”