Taking a tough stand on the massive garbage burning at Bhanpur landfill site in the state capital, the central bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday served a showcause notice of Rs 5 crore each to Bhopal Municipal Corporation commissioner Tejaswi Naik and principal secretary of urban administration SN Mishra.
The officials have been asked to reply as to why they should not be penalised for not complying the earlier orders of the bench. The fine amount, if realised, will be used as a corpus fund for the residents whose health had been affected by the burning of the solid waste, the bench maintained.
In February this year, the NGT had ordered that the landfill site be scientifically closed within six months and repeatedly stressed in the hearings that there should be no burning of the waste at the site. The bench gave these orders while hearing the case filed by the environmentalist Subash Pandey.
The NGT also ordered chief medical and health officer (CMHO) Dr Pankaj Shukla to study the health impact of the burning of such a huge quantity of solid waste on the nearby residential areas, including schools, under three categories -- within one kilometre, within 3 kms and within 5 kms.
The bench also authorised the state pollution control board that it can initiate prosecution against the BMC commissioners since 2004 on Bhanpur landfill site as the same had been continuing operating without any permission from state pollution control board.
CMHO Dr Pankaj Shukla told HT that he would constitute a team of doctors from JP Hospital to study the health impact within a day or two. "Since this is a major work, it would take some time. But we will try to finish the study work as soon as possible as NGT wants the report within a week," he said.
Petitioner Subash Pandey said he showed the bench recent photos and newspaper clippings regarding the burning of thousands of tonnes solid waste at the landfill site.
"I told the bench that it was a total violation of the earlier orders. Instead of taking some concrete steps regarding its shifting, the authorities are going in the opposite direction and burning the waste to lessen the volume there. It is the height of insensitivity that authorities are allowing the burning of waste at the cost of health of the people living nearby," he said.
Pandey said the bench would give further directions after receiving the status of the burning of waste from the BMC. Despite repeated attempts, BMC commissioner Tejaswi Naik could not be contacted. The next hearing in the case is on November 18.