Order of the National Green Tribunal on the matter of a fire at a dumpsite in Ludhiana, Punjab, 25/07/2022
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of In re: News item published in The Indian Express dated 20th April, 2022, titled “7 Charred to death in fire near Ludhiana dumpsite” dated 25/07/2022.
Proceedings in the matter were taken up in the light of a media report to the effect that seven persons were charred to death in a fire at a garbage dump site at Tajpur road, Ludhiana. Most of the deceased belonged to the rag picker family who were living for the last ten years near the site with a huge dump of 20 lakhs tons.
The Monitoring Committee in its report, May 15, 2022 said that the municipal corporation and other state authorities have failed to provide a clean environment and also failed to comply with the SWM Rules not only at Ludhiana but even other places.
The Monitoring Committee report informed the NGT that:
"Out of 1100 TPD wet and dry waste generated, negligible part of it – 49% is treated. The remaining remains untreated. Presently 25-30 lakh tonne legacy waste is stored at 52 acres of land in Ludhiana. No steps are being taken to remediate the same."
The Monitoring Committee also mentions the non-compliance status of Municipal Councils of other Districts - Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur & Malerkotla, SBS Nagar, Mansa, Ropar, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Fazitka and Sri Mukatsar Sahib.
The NGT directed the concerned authorities to take action in terms of recommendations in the monitoring committee report. The Municipal Corporation Ludhiana has been directed by the NGT to deposit a sum of Rs. 100 crores with the District Magistrate, Ludhiana, towards interim compensation within one month. If the corporation was unable to make such a deposit, it can be done by the state government.
Further, in view of preponderance of probabilities that death of seven persons is attributable to fire of the dump site, the Municipal Corporation is held liable to pay compensation to their next of kin by way of deposit with the District Magistrate, Ludhiana within one month. Compensation is assessed at Rs.10 lacs each for persons aged above 50 and Rs.7.5 lac each to the persons below 20.
The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation must set up requisite facilities/ infrastructure to prevent fires. "Remediation of legacy waste which has already been delayed beyond timelines under the Rules may now be done without further delay," the NGT said.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been asked to collate information on legacy and active dump sites in cities having population more than one million and, in the state and Union Territory capitals, with timelines to prepare and execute fire management plans, with requisite facilities and infrastructure.