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The Delhi Laws Act, 1912
Article 21 in The Constitution Of India 1949
Article 32 in The Constitution Of India 1949
The Indian Penal Code, 1860
The Manipur Municipalities Act, 1994.

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Central India Law Quarterly
Environmental Pollution And Solid Waste Management: A ...
ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION AND SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT: A RE-EXAMINATION OF DR. B.L. WADHERAV. UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS, AIR 1996 se 2989 Aarti· Joshi· Fads . The matter was a public Interest Litigation filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by Dr. B. L. Wadhera.' The PIL was filed because the petitioner was concerned about the environmental and health hazards caused by . the dumping of' hospital wastes at Bhalswa dump in Delhi by civic authorities since the incinerator installed at the hospital was not working. 2 The case brought out the issue of the inefficiency of the Municipal Corporation regarding solid waste management in Delhi. inspite of the fact that they had a statutory obligation to maintain and clean the city of Delhi. Through this petition the petitioner sought directions to the MCO) and the NDMC 4 to perform their statutory duties in particular the collection, removal and disposal of garbage and other waste. • Vth.year student, National Law School oflndia University. I. The case was decided by a two judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Kuldip Singh and Saghir Ahmed U. 2. Usha Tandon and Jagdev, "Urbanisation. The Problem of waste . , and The Law" 28 (2&3) Indian Bar Review (200) at 37. 3. Municipal Corporation of Delhi. 4, New Delhi Municipal Corporation. 136 CENTRAL INDIA LAW Qt,. During the course, of the hearings the MCD, Delhi Admi,istration and Delhi Development Authority were asked to place on record the list of all garbage dumping places and city garbage' collection centers. They also had to state the steps undertaken by them to keep the places clean. 2. Issues Raised )i.> Whether there was any statutory obligation on the part of the MCD and NDMC for the collection. removal and disposal of garbage and other waste in Delhi? };> What were the steps taken by the MCD and NDMC for effective solid waste management and whether these bodies had ,performed their duties in accordance with the spirit of the law? ,. Whether hospitals in Delhi were equipped with adequate infrastructure/incinerators to dispose of hospital wastes? Arguments Advanced 3. It was submitted on behalf of the petitioner that the MCD and the NDMe had been totally remiss in the performance of their statutory duties to scavenge and clean Delhi city, as it was their mandatory duty' to collectand dispose of the garbage/waste generated from various sources in the city. It was also contended that there were inadequate facilities to dispose of hospital wastes and only a handful hospitals had incinerators to bum the hospital wastes. Lastly, it was contended that the constitutional rights' guaranteed under Articles 21,48A and 51A(g) which place the' responsibility on the state to provide for protection . and improvement of the environment were also being violated. . , Vol. XVII ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION 137 . The defendants took the defence that they neither had enough financial assistance nor manpower at its disposal to carry out its work effectively. They submitted the Court with a list of . proposals for tacking the. problem of waste management.' As regards .the issue of improper hospital waste management the defendants contended that the costs of installing incinerators was very high and hence most hospital could not afford it. Judgement' 4. The court dismissed the contention of the defendants and held that non- availability of funds, inadequacy or inefficiency of the staff; insufficiency of machinery, etc could not be pleaded as a ground for non-performance of the statutory duty by the Municipal Corporation. The court held that the authorities (MCn and NDMC). have a mandatory duty to collect and dispose of the garbage generated from various sources in the city and that they have been unable to provide a clean and healthy environment and have therefore, been wholly remiss in The discharge of their duties under law inspite of employment over 40,000 workers/safai karmacharis to keep the city clean. 5. . The NDMe filed a proposed scheme which included the following steps: (I) sweeping the roads/streets, collection of garbage and its storage at designated places, (2) lifting of the garbage and its transportation to the dumping site at Gazipur, (3) deployment of workforce at night for effective garbage removal, (4) distribution , of polythene bags for garbage.collection, (5) utilisation of a part of the garbage and horticulture waste for conversion into manure at Compost at Okhla'~ 138 CENTRAL INDIA LAW Q,.g. The court then issued the following directions to the MCO and NOMe: f' .. I. ',It approved of aU the experimental schemes placed before the court by the Men and NDMC where under certain localities were selected for distribution of polythene bags for door to ,door collection of garbage and its disposal. The MCn and NDMC were further directed to have the City cleaned and scavenged everyday and garbage was to be collected and transported to the designated place for disposal. 2. . The Court also directed them to, construct and install ; incinerators in all the hospitals/nursing homes with 50 beds or , 1 I , more. which were under their administration. Private hospitals/nursing homes were to make their own arrangement for disposal of garbage and hospitals waste. 3. The Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Committee were directed to regularly send inspection teams to ascertain that the collection. transportation and disposal of garbage was being carried out satisfactorily. 4. The Delhi Government was directed to appoint Magistrates under section 469: of the Delhi Act and Section 375 of The New Delhi Act for the trial of offences under these Acts. Doordarshan was directed to make appropriate displays to educate the people regarding their duties of helping keep the city clean. 5. The compost plant at Okhla was to be revived and put in to, operation with effect from June 1. 1996 and the MCD. was , , also to examine the construction of 4 additional compost plants as recommended by the Jagmohan Committee.' Vol. XVII ENVIRONM ENTAL POLLUTION 139 6. The Union of India and NCT Delhi Administration were requested to consider grant for financial assistance to the MCOand NOMC. 7. . The MDC and NOMe Were to' construct/install additional garbage collection centers within fourmonths. 8. NCT Delhi Administration. MCO and NOMC were directed . ' . ' - . . to engage an expert NEERI to find out alternative .methods of garbage and solid waste disposal as the existing landfillswould get exhausted soon. CritiCiue of the:JudgelDent 5. ., The B. L. Wadhera case brought out the issue of how . inadequat~· the present measures 'to dispose of wastes6 are in the cities of our country. This problem arises out of the' Municipal .Corporations not performing their statutory .duties. However, in " .::order to completely understand the import of the decision'it would . be necessary to examine the issue of solid waste management as its mismanagement gives rise to problems ofhealth, sanitation and . . environmental degradation, which can affect the very sustainability of life in a city.7 6. Wastes are defined as "substances, solutions, mixtures, or articles for which no direct use is envisaged but which are transported for reprocessing. dumping. elimination by incineration or other methods of disposal, Wastes, generally, are of three kinds: solid wastes, liquid wastes and gaseous wastes. From the point of view of source they may be further classified as domestic wastes, industrial wastes and other hazardous wastes, Supra note 2, at 38. 7. Satpal Singh, "Solid Wastes Management in Delhi: Problems and prospects" ~3 (2) Nagarlok (2001) at51. 140 CENTRAL INDIA LAW CDt). 2004 Non-disposal or improper disposal of waste has become one of the major factors responsible for environmental pollution in urban areas. This is primarily because there is enormous pressure on land due to the growing population in the cities. Rapid industrial development, urbanization and regular flow of persons from rural to urban areas have made major contribution towards environment degradation. This growing population puts severe strains on the Government's ability to provide services relating to sanitation, waste disposal and creating infrastructure preventing health hazards." As a result the Municipal Authorities have become completely lax and inefficient in their duties of collection and disposal of Municipal Solid Waste. There is no system of segregation of organic, inorganic and recyclable wastes at the household level. Door-to-door collection is rarely practices and community collection bins are so poorly designed that more often than naught there are just open dumps on the ,roadsideX In.addition to this, inspite of the directions given. byt~ iCO~.. hQspital. still continue to function without incineratorsto dispose 9£ Uleil'. wastes. The regular practice is to dispose the hospital waste, inw.~ nearby community dump and thus, the hospitilwastes get mixed up with the domestic municipal wastes. The services'oftheMimiciPaI bodies suffers from administrative, manageri~f ana, ,ifinancial .problems. There is a shortage of experiences an~train~4,~tf,poor maintenance of vehicles, obsolete tools and, cmmpntent,· lack of finance and unscientific management practices followed•. 8. Supra note 1, at 37. 9. Shyam Divan and Armin Rosencranz, Envifcml11erlta' Law and Policy in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press{200I}at 373. Vol. XVII . ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION 141 This case also illustrates the active role that the judiciary has been taking in tacking issues relating to protection of the environment . The Indian Courts have given new dimensions to Chapter III on Fundamental Rights in the Constitution, in particular to Article 21 10 in favour of the people and the environment. The word "life" in Article 21 has been extended to the right to clean environment, free of pollution. The expansion of. Article .21 has clearly enthused the . public interest groups approachingthe Courts to seek enforcement of right to have a . clean and safe environment, free from 'polluting wastes. The Supreme Court has made obligations of the State to provide safe and clean environment under the Directive Principles also . . enforceable, Clearly, the last few years have shown the court's .activism at its peak concerning environment. The Background 6. It is important to note that there have been instances before the case of B.L.Wadhera where individuals have gone before the Court asking for directions to the Municipality to perform their duties effectively, The petitioner Dr. Wadhera during the hearing of the case cited the case of Ratlam Municipality v. Vardichand11 , where the question before the Court was whether the order of the Trial Court as upheld by the High Court directing the Ratlam Municipality to draft a plan within six months .for the removal of nuisance ~~ by the open drains and public excretion by the 10. Article 21 of the Constitution says that "no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law". 11. AIR 1980 SC 1622. \ 142 CENTRAL INDIA LA W~t~ •. 2004 nearby slum dwellers could be sustained.':' The Court further ruled that the mandatory duty imposed by the M. P. Municipalities Act, 1961, for the cleansing. of sewers, disposal of waste, etc had to be carried out irrespective of insufficiency of funds. Similarly, the Bombay High Court addressed a more modest agenda in Shanti Park 'Sorento' Co-op society Ltd v.Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai where the residents of Shanti Park complained against the daily burning of garbage .at the municipal 'dumping site -a~ Deonar. Thick plumes of smoke rose from Deonar -,and drifted over the suburbs of Ghatkopar ~d Chembur. The petitioner's investigations revealed that the garbage was being ignited by slum dwellers and rag pickers who recovered discarded . metal from the waste. The High Court issued a series of order .requiring the municipal, corporation to improve its MSW dumping practicesand to preventthe burning of garbage at Deonar.':' ' Therefore, these cases reflect that at the time of filing the B. L. Wadhera case there already was sufficient precedent established in such kind of matters. The FoUow up After B. L. Wadhera 7. The follow up to the B. L. Wadhera case was taken up in the case of AlmitraPatel v, Unionof India'" where the magnitude 12. In this case the residents of a locality within limits of Ratlam Munidpality tormented by stench and stink caused by open drains and publicexcretion by nearbyslum dwellers moved the Magistrate under S. 133 of the Cr PC to requirethe Municipality to do its duty towardsthe members of the public. 13. Supra note 9. at 375. 14. AIR 20()O SC 1256. Vol. XVII ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION 143 of the problem prompted Almitra Patel to file 'an Article 32 Writ petition before the Supreme Court, seeking writs against the states and principal municipalities to implement MSW management. In this case the Court stated that it was unfortunate that even .after 4 years of the previous decision, the directions given in the aforesaid case has not yet been complied .. with by the Authorities-and untreated domestic 'and industrial waste was still being left . unattended causing havoc' to the environment. 15 The Authorities' ' . ,had no satisfactory explanation as to why the directions had still . not' been' complied. with. The sites for landfill had still not. been identified .and handed 0 vet to 'the MCD nor had four. additional . ' . ' . ,compost plant ~en constructed though specific direction in this' regard was issued in Dr. B. L. Wadhera's cas~~ Further, no IS. By order dated I6~h January, 1998, the' Court constituted a Committee leaded by Mr. Asim Burmon to: (I)Examine the existing practices and to suggest' hygienic processing and waste disposal practices and proven technologies on the basis of .economic feasibility and safely which the Corporations/Government may' directly or indirectly adopt or sponsor. (2). Examine and suggest ways to improve conditions in the formal and informal sector for promoting eco-friendly, sorting, collection, trinsportation, disposal, recycling and reuse. (3). To review Municipal bye-laws and the powers of local, bodies and regional planning authorities and suggest necessary modifi~ions to ensure effective budgeting, financing, administration, monitoring and compliance. (4). Examine and formulate standards and regulations for management'o f urban solid waste, and set time frame within which the authorities shaH be bound to implement in drafting the Management of Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handl ing) Rules, 1999. 144 CENTRAL INDIA LA W ~. 2004 effective progress appeared to. have been made in regard of the experimental scheme 16 that had been suggested by the MeD. . One of the problems identified by the MeD and NDMe . was the shortage of judicial magistrates to ensure proper enforcement of the Acts against people littering the city. But the Court held that this could be easily overcome by the Government. appointing. suitable persons like retired government officials, ex- . defence officers as Executive Magistrates under Section 20 or Special Executive Magistrates under Section 21 of the Code of "Criminal Procedure who can be empowered to deal with such minor offences under the provisions of the MCO and NOMC Acts. . The court directed that the sites for landfills and the .compost pit were to be identified within four weeks. The MCD and the NDMc were directed to ensure that the relevant provision of the DMC Act, 1957, New, Delhi Municipal Council Act, 1994 and the . Cantonments Act, 1942 relating to sanitation and public health prohibiting accumulation of any rubbish, filth, garbage or other . .pollutedobnoxious matters in any premises and/or prohibiting any. person from depositing the same in "any street or public place were to be scrupulously complied" with and the streets; public premises shall be surface cleaned on. daily basis, including on Sundays and . . public holidays. The statutory authorities were to appoint competent officers to levy and recover charges and costs from any person littering or violating provision of the diverse Acts, bye- law and Regulations relating to sanitation and. health. The Court also mooted the idea of having privatized garbage collection services. 16. Where- under eertain localities had been selected for distribution of polythene bags and collection of garbage from door to door. Vol. XVII F~l'IVIRONM[NTAL POLLl!TION 145 One important outcome of the case was the formulation of • .the Municipal Solid' Waste (Management and Handling) Rules. :WOO. The Rules lay down the responsibility of management of solid waste disposal and various standard for disposal of treated 17. . ' . ' • . leachate. The management of waste has been made the responsibility of the Municipal Authority under Rule 4 and the District Magistrate/ Deputy Commissioner shall have the overall responsibility for the enforcement of the provision under these rules. Schedule III and IV contain the model forms for disposal of waste and standard of treatment for disposal of wastes. These Rules have helped create a strong awareness of waste-related issues-and their magnitude, and attempts by City managers to use their civic powers to keep the city clean. Mumbai, for example now refuses to collect .mixed waste, and' imposes fines for dumping on roads .18 In addition to this, it must be, remembered that the court has been giving the directions to civic bodies from time to time with regard to collection, transportation processing and safe disposal of waste across the country. A Look at the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Management System 8. Solid waste can be defined as .any unwanted' or discarded material. from residential, commercial, industrial, mining and 17. Leachate is the liquid that seeped through solid waste and other medium and hasextracted, dissolved or suspended material from it. 18. Almitra Patel, "Environmental Policy, Legislation and . Implementation": Paper for Indian Environment Associations Environment (Mumbai, 2002) at 3..' 146 CENTRAL INDIA LAW G.y. 2004 agricultural activities, which can cause environmental problems.!" Solid waste Management is a planned system of effectively controlling the production, storage, collection, transportation, processing and disposal or utilization of solid waste in asanitary, .aesthetically acceptable, arid economical manner. It includes all administrative, financial, legal and planning functions as well as the physical. aspects, of solid waste management. The amount of per capita waste generated by the small, medium towns and large cities everyday is about 0.1 kg., 0.3 kg. And 0.5kg respectively. The area under the MCD generated waste of about 6000 tonne every day.2o The major ingredients of any MSW management system are the following: (1) Solid Waste Collection, (2) Transportation (3) Waste Disposal and Treatment. Therefore, for any MSW management policy to be successful effective implementation and 'constant supervision are important factors to be looked into. As per Section 353 (b) of the Delhi Municipal Act, the MCD is responsible to collect waste from the dalaos or dustbins, which are located in different parts of the city. It is the citizens duty . to deposit their waste in these receptacles and these bins are cleared from time to time by the safai karmacharies of the Corporation. However, studies indicate that inspite of bins being cleared regularly, a huge amount of waste is still left uncollected i. e about 19. • The sources of solid wastes are: municipal street sweepings, domestic garbage (wet waste): decayed fruits, vegetables and leftlover food, rubbish (dry waste): waste paper, cloth rags, wood, plastics and leather, commercial waste from stores, offices, markets and restaurants, industrial wastes, agricultural waste from crop residue, hospital wastes: cotton, plaster, amplules, needles and operation theatre wastes. 20. Supra note 7 at 58.. Vol. XVII ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION 147 500·m. tonne daily. The waste is then carried to the disposal place for the dumping through the municipal vehicle. One major problem identified in the B. L Wadhera case in this regard was the lack of vehicle being in proper .working conditions for the transportation of wastes. 21 The situation is further worsened on account ofthe fact that during any given shift more than 50 per cent of the time is spent non-productively by the staff. The fact was identified in the B. L. Wadhera case where it was established that the MCD arid the NDMC· had enough safai karmcharies to collect the wastes. Therefore, there is no dearth of manpower but what is needed is productive man-power. Other problems relating to transportation are that often open trucks that are redundant for any other use are employed for garbage transport and these are not equipped to deal with segregated wastes. The last stage of wastes management is that of treatment and disposal of garbage. The popular methods are: Sanitary Landfill Disposal Systems, Composting, Anaerobic Biomethanation, Incineration and Waste Recycling. Presently Sanitary Landfills are most common as they inexpensive to maintain but the problem is that they also have a saturation point after which new areas need to be found. to dispose of the waste and these places are hard to find in cities which are over crowded. The Problem of Hospital Wastes "9. The B. L. Wadhera case also brought into light the issue ,of mismanagement of hospital waste which leads to serious health 21. The major reasons for this are improper maintenance as a result of which a aumber of vehicles are not functional, time lost waiting in the queue for fueling. 148 (:ENTRAL INDIA LAW City, ', 2004 and environmental problems ... Factors responsible for the' mismanagement of hospital waste disposal, improper segregation of . . waste. inadequate and untrained staff engaged in segregation of waste and lack of incinerators and autoclaves for· the disposal of waste. Segregation of waste is an important activity of waste disposal and it is" found that in most hospitals this is not done. at source. Also. according to the Biomedical Wastes (Management" and Handling) Rules. 1998 there is a color coding of bags in which wastes are to be disposed off but it has been noticed that this rule is seldom followed. which leads to the wastes getting mixed. It has also been noticed that this rule is seldom followed. which leads to the wastes getting mixed. It has been noticed that most of the .hospitals dump their waste in the nearest garbage bins. which go to the landfill sites. 22 Therefore. in these cases the hospital waste is getting mixed up with the municipal waste. The Central Pollution Control Board has found that most hospitals lack the required facilities for safe disposal of bio-medical wastesY Therefore. the Delhi Government has decided to install common incinerators for hospitals and nursing homes having less than 50 beds. Yet. at the same time studies have also shown that most incinerators24 don't 22. Satpal Singh "Mismanaging Hospital Wastes" 36 (16) Economic and political Weekly (2001 jat 1297. . 23. They inspected 25 hospital in Delhi and found that 10 have not taken up any step to set up any incinerators or alternative systems of burning wastes. . . . 24 The incineration process does not destroy matter. it merely changes the chemical composition & toxicity of the substances burnt.. By transforming. solid & liquid toxic wastes into gaseous emissions, .incineration actually increases the volume of waste by mixing it with . air & dispersing pollutants over land. water system &. into the atmosphere. In additional toxic chemicals such as' Dioxin are· actually created by incineration ..As cited in "processing of the Hospital Waste" http://guj .in/mediedu/B io MediWasteNMnglMprocessing.htll1(November25.2003). Vol. XVII ENVIRONMENT At POLLUTION 149 work properly and that they are actually harmful for the environment as they create additional toxic substances. 25 Inspite of these limitations. they still continue "to be popularly used to dispose of medical waste. The need of the hour that would help in improving hospital waste management would be a comprehensive policy and follow up action plan with proper supervision at every level and routine checks of incinerators and other equipment. Training for staff engaged in waste disposal. common incinerator plants in the city. Conclusion 10. The B. L. Wadhera case reflects the sad state of affairs in our country where one has reached such a stage that for a matter as miniscule as making the authorities perform their statutory duties. one has to approach the already burdened courts of law. As a result thereof the Court had in Dr. B. L. Wadhera's case. per force, to step in because of the non- performance or non-implementation of the law by the municipal authorities. The dismal state of affairs of waste Management policy was also reflected in the fact that even after the directions were issued by the Court in the B. L. Wadhera case. it was held in the Almitra Ptael/" case that the-directions of the Court had not been followed. Waste Management in urban areas is a serious problem and it is needless and diseased environment. Therefore. what we need is proper implementation of the Rules and Regulations relating to Waste Management on part of the Municipalities with the help of NOO's who have been "doing good work on the issue .and perhaps there can be some private sector participation in this regard as well. which would help reduce. the burden on the Municipalities. This would ensure that we have a clean. garbage and pollution free environment. 25. Id. 26. Supra note 14.