New Delhi, July 10: The Supreme Court on Tuesday raprimanded state governments and Union Territories for not taking enough action over waste managment. In its scathing observation, the apex court said Delhi is getting buried under mounds of garbage and Mumbai is sinking under water, but the government is doing nothing.
"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," a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.
The top court expressed anguish after it was informed that around 13 states and several Union Territories have not yet formulated their policy for solid waste management strategy. It further lamented that the judges are attacked when the courts intervene and said what can be done when government of the day does not do anything or acts in an irresponsible manner.
The apex court slapped a fine of Rs one lakh each on Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Punjab, Lakshadweep and Puducherry for not filing the affidavit despite earlier directions. 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.
"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.
The court observed that when the state governments do not obey the laws framed by Parliament, how will they care about the rules. "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.
The apex court had on March 27, taken strong objections to non-implementation of solid waste management rules in the country and observed that "India will one day go down under the garbage". (With PTI inputs)