Author: Ishita Maheshwari, III year of B.B.A.,LL.B. from Symbiosis Law School,NOIDA
One of the things that is going to affect everyone globally is pollution. Due to industrialization, globalization and urbanization a plethora of liquid and solid waste is produced and the problem is there is no place to dump the same waste because of which arises the problem of waste management. One has to be very critical to develop a framework with regard to managing the waste which will cover dimensions from economy, social, technological to political dimensions. Example if we talk about its social dimension of management of waste then that involves minimization of the waste and if we look into its economic dimension then it involves recycling of the waste, disposal of waste will cover in its technological dimension. One of the major judgements that is delivered by National Green Tribunal is that of Almitra H. Patel & Ors. vs. Union of India and Ors[i]. The issue in this case which was dealt with was that of completely prohibiting burning of the waste openly on the land. It has been a single largest case in which the problem of solid waste management in India was dealt with and is also a case that takes up the lead when it comes to environment protection.This paper is going to discuss this case while emphasizing on the issue, analysis accordingly.
Research Question and Objective
So, the objective behind this research is to understand critically that how much of the solution has been provided to the problem of solid waste management through assessing the judgement given by the NGT. This paper provides for an in-depth study into this case and also answers the question as to how much this case and the recommendations have helped in dealing with the problem of management with regard to waste and the various legal frameworks that came into being to deal with the various questions that came in front of the eyes of the nation through this case.
Case Facts and its Issues
In this case there was a PIL filed by Almitra H. Patel & Ors under article 32[ii]in the Apex court of India with regard to the poor status of Delhi. In this the petitioner demanded urgent and immediate and a practical development which was concerned with the management of solid waste products handled by the municipal authorities India. This case became so huge and was given a lot of importance because of the fact that rubbish of uncooked or cooked food in the quantity of more than a lakh of tones is dumped every day without any particular place to dump them rather they are dumped anywhere near road ends, lakes, rivers or nalas. More than 133760 MT of waste is generated by the society in a day which is showing an upward movement in its growth. So accordingly, there was a requirement that was cited by the tribunal to make the best out of waste and convert this waste into the supply of gasoline and electricity which can be beneficial for the society in both the manners by volunteering the principles of circular economy.So, the three main issues that were involved in this case were firstly, if the blame of affected people in Delhi due to pollution because of ill management of the waste has to be on Delhi Municipal Corporation. Secondly,if there was then a need for a committee to be set up for recommendation and if so then who all will be the presiding officers in that committee and thirdly if the number of safai karamcharis were not up to the mark under Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
Judgement of the case
After looking into dispute and after evaluation of all the factors there were twenty-five directions that were given by the tribunal. All the Union territories and states were said to implement the 2016 rules[iii] as soon as possibleand were ordered to start to give motion to the plan within four weeks. The direction was also given to state government, central government and local bodies by the tribunal to carry out their duties according to the rules that were set without any delay. There was obligation to absolutely segregate waste for providing strength to vegetation as well as landfills are supposed to be used in a manner in which there can be deposit of inert waste in the most effective manner and some kind of stabilization in biodiversity can enter within six months. Most importantly tribunal prohibited burning the waste openly on land that also included landfills.
The amount of hazardous waste that has entered into the country despite of the ban which the courts have imposed clearly indicates that something or other is missing out in our laws or guidelines. The ill management of waste and the ill management specifically with regard to its disposal makes the environment around so unsafe as well as pollutes it in every manner. It is not the only duty of the state to implement the Basel convention[iv] but with that it is also important to look into the amendments and make sure of their implementation accordingly that are done in a periodic manner with regard to this convention. The state does not only hold the duty to give protection to the environment but it also has to opt out the best options or the alternatives which helps in the protection of the environment and it should focus on how in a maximum manner it can eradicate the toxicity from the environment and look for most environment friendly ways to implement any new guideline or any rule. In the case mentioned above the recommendation committee was set up. The objective of this committee was that it had to look into the most environment-safe alternates and their availability and also to prepare or make a list of substances that are hazardous in nature and requires to be put on a ban or are supposed to be given a regulation. The doctrine of “public trustee” is given to the states that says that the trustee of the natural resources is the state and therefore there is a duty imposed on them to protect the natural resources as much as possible. The “polluter pays principle”[v]says that any person or anyone who hurts the environment in anyway which therefore causes any kind of imbalance in the ecology and affects the environment will have to be penalized and is to be punished accordingly. The industries because of which there is a harm that is being caused to individual who suffer and ecology is not only bound to restore back to the individual but is also supposed to give back to ecology for the harm it causes to it. The ruled that are now supposed to be born are to be given birth while keeping in mind that there is already an alarming pollution in the country. When hazardous waste is supposed to be pick up from docks, etc. then it had to be done in the most environment safe and friendly manner there is. A proper record has to be maintained that shows that the waste of hazardous nature has been given back in the industry and that that has gone through the process of recycling and the same was not sold any of the trader outside. It is to be seen by the state that whatever steps are being taken by the industry with regard to the waste hazardous in nature is taken into consideration according to the guidelines set up the state[vi]. There was a need of policy that is permanent in nature or legislative guidelines for the management of the landfill. Although the view that is expressed by the Supreme Court is to use compost plants as a method alternative of the landfill but there is a realization that landfill will be treated as a solid waste disposal area for the coming twenty years at least. With the case mentioned above there are many ramifications which are introduced which includes disputes related to labor laws and also when there is a dispute two entities that are statutory in nature. According to the 12th schedule[vii] which tells us about the significant functions of the Urban Administration that includes public health, sanitization , solid waste management also provides for a committee to set up so that there can a planning for the district for the consolidations of the plans that are made in action by the municipalities or panchayats which are there in a town or a district and for the preparation of a draft that shows the development of a district and how to further up that graph which specifically enumerates that the environment conversation should be on top of the priority apart from all other matters. Therefore, when we talk about the constitution, it has been nothing but has been true to the nature of it and has provided provisions for solid waste management by empowering or giving roles to the municipalities. However, when we come back to the statutory bodies or its levels there has not been any initiative by them for any framework, whatever has come has occurred through the rules which came into existence because of the courts or the judiciary which came into play and put out the guidelines for the same.
Environment is extremely important when it comes to any sort of life and so is described in the case[viii]. This case came to be known as a leading case on management of the waste on the orders given by the court and also for handling and management of the hazardous waste. This case also played a pivotal role because after this case there were strict actions taken against those who did not pay or paid in a careless manner in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. This case helped the people of urban cities in the best possible manner because the municipal corporations of such metropolitan cities became strict with regard to their work which in turn helped in management of waste which in turn helps with the pollution. Because of this case there has an improvement when it came to management of the waste that is hazardous in nature. Two of the most significant things that happened with this case were firstly the ban on the waste burning in open on land was a significant development and secondly with regard to the report that is supposed to be submitted by the officers as soon as possible and the sort of action that would take place if they do not adhere to it in such a strict manner also makes this case supremely important when it comes to Management of Solid Waste.
[ii]Article 32 of Indian Constitution https://blog.ipleaders.in/article-32-constitution-india/
[iii]Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016http://envlawportal.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/The-Solid-Waste-Management-Rules-2016-as-amended.pdf
[iv]Basel Convention on hazardous waste 1989https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/basel-convention-1989/
[v]Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum vs. UOI MANU/SC/0686/1996 https://www-manupatrafast-in.eu1.proxy.openathens.net/pers/Personalized.aspx
[vi]Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 http://envlawportal.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/The-Solid-Waste-Management-Rules-2016-as-amended.pdf
[vii]Constitution of India (12th schedule) https://www.writinglaw.com/twelfth-schedule-constitution-of-india/
[viii]Almitra H. Patel & Ors. vs. Union of India and OrsMANU/GT/0150/2016 https://www-manupatrafast-in.eu1.proxy.openathens.net/pers/Personalized.aspx