SHE’S PROBABLY the country’s only Mayor to openly defy the Supreme Court, and earn a pat on the back in the process. In the hue and cry over Mayor Dr Uma Shashi Sharma’s torching of 350 flex (read PVC) banners erected by a rival BJP faction one crucial point seems to have escaped everyone’s attention: the move was a direct violation of the apex court’s orders.
The Municipal Solid Wastes (Handling and Management) Rules, 2000, formed as per SC directives, clearly forbid burning of waste within city limits. Ironically, the rules entrust the management and handling of municipal solid waste to the Municipal Corporation, of which the Mayor herself is the head.
Instead of warning her that she’s falling foul of the law, Sharma’s party colleagues seem intent on adding fuel to the bonfire.
A group of BJP corporators on Monday handed the Mayor a mashaal (torch) to express appreciation for her ‘fiery’ stand towards ‘illegal banners’ and urged her to set these ablaze “as soon as they come up”.
Neither the corporators nor, indeed, the Mayor herself appear to have given much thought to the environmental fallout of burning the PVC-laced banners in densely populated localities like Rajwada, Palasia and LIG Square.
“PVC laminated/coated polyester fabric (flex banners) release noxious substances harmful to the environment upon being burnt. Human exposure to these can result in skin rashes as well as breathing complications”, admitted an MP Pollution Control Board scientist.
Environmentalists, NGOs and even district Collector Vivek Aggarwal, who is mandated to enforce compliance of the rules, too, have remained strangely silent on the issue even though the bonfires took place in the full glare of media attention.
The Mayor set ablaze over 350 posters and banners erected to welcome BJP leader L K Advani by supporters of PWD Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya at Rajwada, Palasia and LIG Square in the presence of faithful Mayor-in-Council members.
Although the ‘bonfires’ aroused a howl of protests from Vijayvargiya loyalists the reasons were mostly political and scant attention was paid to the environmental and legal aspects of the Mayor’s action.