Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding unscientific dumping of solid waste by the Municipal Council, Sopore, Jammu & Kashmir, 25/05/2022
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Chief Executive Officer, Municipal Council, Sopore Vs Jammu & Kashmir Pollution Control Board dated 25/05/2022.
The appeal was filed by the Municipal Council, Sopore, Jammu & Kashmir against order of the Jammu & Kashmir State Pollution Control Board - levying compensation of ₹130.46 Lakhs on ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.
The State PCB found illegal and unscientific dumping and disposal of solid waste in the area of the Municipal Council. Show cause notice was issued to the Municipal Council, June 26, 2020 alleging dumping of waste in forest land, on flood plain of Jhelum and buffer zone of Wular lake but no plausible reason was given for non-compliance.
The Municipal Council, Sopore, July 18, 2020 said that the spot where the waste was being dumped is state land and not forest land and the government had the right to use the land for public purposes. "Since the spot is far beyond the buffer zone (200 meters from the bank of the lake is taken as its buffer zone). Therefore, there is nothing wrong in using the spot for public interest," the Municipal Council in its reply said.
The SPCB, after considering the Municipal Council reply, issued show cause notice, August 10, 2020 proposing to levy compensation and made it clear that municipal waste cannot be disposed of in the manner in which Municipal Committee Sopore is currently doing."
The Municipal Council in reply to the show cause notice said that the matter was pending in the High Court and that alternatives for scientific disposal of waste were being explored.
However, the SPCB said that mere pendency of matter in the High Court was not enough and in view of admitted violation in disposal of waste, the appellant was held liable to pay compensation.
The Municipal Committee Sopore, May 25, 2022 informed NGT that the dumping of waste was not on forest land and it was beyond the catchment area of the lake Wular or buffer zone of the river Jhelum. The NGT said that it was undisputed that disposal of waste was not in accordance with the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016. Waste was being unscientifically dumped in low lying areas in violation of the manner provided under the SWM Rules 2016 and this had the potential for damage to the environment and public health. In view of the above, the NGT disposed of the appeal and said that there was no ground to interfere with the levy of compensation.