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Delhi garbage: ‘You think you’re superpower, but won’t do anything,’ Supreme Court slams L-G

The Supreme Court had observed that due to the loads of garbage in Delhi, people were getting infected by dengue, malaria and chikungunya, while Mumbai was sinking under heavy rainfall.

delhi Updated: Jul 12, 2018 22:58 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,L-G Anil Baijal,Lieutenant Governor
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal (PTI FIle Photo)

Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor drew flak from the Supreme Court on Thursday for not taking effective enough measures to handle the Capital’s garbage crisis despite having powers over the municipal corporations.

A bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta pulled up the LG after his affidavit asserted that the municipal corporations of Delhi, responsible for garbage collection and disposal, were answerable to him.

The court chided the LG when additional solicitor general Pinky Anand refused to commit on a timeline to clean the garbage and asked for time after seeking adequate instructions from the corporations. The top court said it was shocked to note that nobody from the LG’s office “bothered to attend” meetings on the issue in the past.

“You say I have the power, but you do not bother to attend meetings. You think you are a superman; I am responsible but nobody can touch me and I won’t do anything except blaming others,” the bench said. When Anand said both the LG and the Delhi government were equally responsible, Justice Lokur cut her short: “Do not drag the chief minister here. He has no business is what you have said. Be responsible.”

Delhi generates 10,500 metric tonnes of garbage every day and about 40% of this lands in the city’s four dump sites. As much as 300 metric tonnes remains uncollected. Three of these four landfills have run out of space but there are no alternative sites available to dump Delhi’s garbage, which is increasing by truckloads every day. It is estimated that Delhi will be generating 15,000 metric tonnes by 2021.

The bench had on Tuesday asked both the LG and the Arvind Kejriwal-led government to clarify who is responsible for “clearing mountains of garbage in Delhi” at the three landfill sites — in Okhla, Bhalswa and Ghazipur.

The order came days after the top court’s verdict on the power tussle between the LG and the Delhi government.

The bench pointed to a meeting that was chaired by the Delhi government’s health minister in 2016. “Why would he (LG) accept this? He (LG) will say who is the minister and the meeting was called by someone who has no authority,” the bench remarked.

The court’s remarks came in the wake of a turf war between LG Anil Baijal and the AAP government. The court started monitoring the garbage disposal system across the country in 2015 after it took cognizance of the dengue death of a seven-year-old boy in Delhi.

“Why should the corporations be asked? You are the LG. You should have found out by now,” the bench retorted when Anand said the affidavit submitted was in response to a specific query by the court.

“There have been 25 meetings (in the last two years) but there has been no outcome. Delhi is still under a mountain of dumps,” the judges remarked. Anand attempted to defend the LG by placing a status report on what the corporations had done thus far, only to draw more ire from the judges.

“This is completely vague. Tell us the timeline. Within how much time will you clear the garbage? Do not give us jargon. Tell us in plain, simple English as to how much time will be taken,” Justice Lokur shot back.

The court gave the LG time till July 16 to file an affidavit indicating the time frame of the steps that would be taken to deal with the situation. The commissioner of the Gurugram municipal corporation was asked to be present in the court on that day after the bench was informed that the Millennium City had made significant progress in tackling the garbage crisis.

Anand was told not to pass the buck by saying that corporations were the statutory authority responsible for sanitation. “This is passing the buck. Tell us how many times he (LG) has issued directions to the civic agencies,” the bench said, terming as “utopian” the ‘state policy on solid waste management strategy’ which has been framed by the LG’s office. “It’s impossible to implement as the corporations do not have the funds to carry out the affairs.”

The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) informed the bench that it had succeeded in reducing the garbage pile in Okhla by at least 10 metres. It took six months to achieve the target. The court, however, felt that a lot more needed to be done because the gap between garbage collection and disposal was huge.

First Published: Jul 12, 2018 13:54 IST