As deadline slipped, SC notice gathered dust in files of Chandigarh MC
It was this lack of seriousness that no one appeared on behalf of MC in the Supreme Court for the July 10 hearing to file a status report, forcing the court to impose a Rs 2 lakh fine, along with a final warning to formulate rules.punjab Updated: Sep 04, 2018 09:59 IST
The civic body’s medical health wing had received a Supreme Court notice seeking notification of the solid waste management rules as early as March, but it remained buried in files for months, even as the court-set deadline neared.
The revelation comes three days after the Supreme Court (SC) imposed a construction ban in Chandigarh on August 31 for its failure to notify the rules, and handed the municipal corporation (MC) a Rs 3-lakh fine.
It was this lack of seriousness that no one appeared on behalf of MC in the Supreme Court for the July 10 hearing to file a status report, forcing the court to impose a Rs 2 lakh fine, along with a final warning to formulate rules.
But that didn’t end here. MC only swung into action on August 19 after getting an alert from different sources in the administration. By then it was too late to stitch a valid argument for the delay so far.
In haste, MC hired a counsel and submitted an affidavit before the SC on August 24, while claiming that a policy was being formulated. But this did not convince the SC that finally slapped a construction ban and ₹3 lakh fine on Chandigarh on August 31.
The construction ban is set to affect the pace of both government and private projects, even as the MC will have to shell out yet another fine at a time when it has been forced to put on hold all development projects for want of funds.
Will bring erring officials to book: Yadav
Municipal corporation (MC) commissioner KK Yadav has assured of tough action against the erring officials.
Yadav told HT that there were definitely lapses on part of the health wing in not alerting senior officials in time and pursue the matter on priority, adding that MC would have definitely hastened the process to notify the policy if its officials were fully aware of SC’s directions.
“I have already directed additional commissioner Saurabh Mishra, who heads the health wing, to ascertain the officials who did not pursue the matter on time,” he said.
Yadav said Chandigarh administration departments were also involved in this case, since it originally dealt with dengue deaths in Delhi, which prompted SC to direct UTs and states to strengthen their solid waste management.
He said the title of the case caused confusion, but still was no justification for laxity on MC’s part.
On Sunday, local bodies secretary Arun Gupta, too, blamed MC for lapses in handling the matter.
‘Corrective measures underway’
SC had sought formulation of policy based on centre’s waste management rules in 2016 that wanted each state to prepare a strategy to start waste segregation and scientific garbage processing. Yadav said the delay in notification of policy does not mean that MC was not doing anything to implement the rules. It is just that the notification of the policy was awaited, which was under process.
The matter is already in the domain of Chandigarh administration after the House approved all bylaws concerning implementation of central rules, and is expected to be notified this week.
Yadav claimed that improvement of waste management was his top priority.
Lawyer’s reason for absence sought
Yadav told HT that they had sought an explanation from the MC counsel for his failure to attend the August 31 hearing in the Supreme Court. The SC bench led by justice MB Lokur had expressed annoyance at the fact that although the lawyer for Chandigarh had confirmed his presence in the court premises by submitting a slip, he was not available for the hearing.
Waste management policy to be notified this week: Administration
In the wake of the SC order on blanket ban on any construction activity in Chandigarh, the municipal corporation has approached the administration to enforce the ban through a public notice at the earliest. According to the SC order, the ban will remain in force till Chandigarh notifies the policy on solid waste management.
“We will notify the waste management policy within this week as the draft policy is ready,” said Arun Gupta, secretary, local bodies.
First Published: Sep 04, 2018 09:59 IST