There is a huge gap in generation and treatment of waste which is endangering the environment and adversely affecting public health, the National Green Tribunal has said while directing that continued failure will result in liability of every local body to pay penalty of Rs 10 lakh per month for the population of above 10 lakh.
The green panel also directed that an "Environment Monitoring Cell" may be set up in the office of chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories within one month.
Observing that the issue of solid and liquid waste needs to be taken seriously, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said it was a matter of serious concern that legacy waste remediation has not even commenced at most of the sites even though rules contemplate outer limit for completion of such process by April 7, 2021.
"Current processing of waste generated and collected is also not taking place on regular basis. For any person travelling by train, hot spots of scattered garbage and overflowing sewage are common sights. Satisfactory sewage management also remains far cry. This unsatisfactory state of affairs must be remedied at the earliest and in a time-bound manner by initiative at the highest level. Accountability needs to be fixed and consequences for failure clearly provided and enforced," the bench said.
The tribunal said that if the local bodies are unable to bear the financial burden, the liability will be of the state governments with liberty to take remedial action against the erring local bodies.
"Apart from compensation, adverse entries must be made in annual confidential reports of CEO of the said local bodies and other senior functionaries in the department of Urban Development etc., who are responsible for compliance of order of this tribunal," it said.
The NGT also asked the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Chandigarh to ensure that its directions on plastic waste, bio-medical waste, construction and demolition waste are complied with.
The chief secretaries of UP, Punjab and Chandigarh may remain present in person for further review on August 24, the NGT said.
The green panel had earlier expressed concern over the implementation of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, saying the situation was highly unsatisfactory.
The tribunal was hearing a petition seeking compliance of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.