The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has taken the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to task once again. The NGT, on Wednesday, slapped a fine of Rs 5 crore on BBMP for not complying with the tribunal’s order on effective solid waste management (SWM) in northern part of Bengaluru.
“This Tribunal is concerned in these proceedings with the issue of illegal dumping of solid waste and failing to remove and scientifically dispose of solid waste already dumped at Bagalur, Jala Hobli, Bengaluru north taluk. It is well known that such dumping and failure is an issue of public health and is required to be dealt as per the statutory duties under the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016,” the NGT order states.
The NGT has directed BBMP to pay Rs 5 crore as penalty to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within one month. The tribunal also directed the CPCB to use the penalty amount to carry out bio-mining in Bagalur.
A petition was filed with the NGT on March 16, 2017, along with photographs of illegal garbage dumping in Bagalur area. Following this, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) issued a letter to the Palike, restraining BBMP from dumping the city’s garbage in the abandoned quarry pits in Bagalur.
In September 2017, the NGT had directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the Central Pollution Control Board and the KSPCB to conduct an inquiry into the alleged irregularities.
In October last year, the joint investigation report was submitted. This report notes a series of discrepancies in the action taken by BBMP regarding the illegal disposal of municipal waste. The report had stated that the Palike had not considered the parameters prescribed for selection of a landfill site and had forgone the protocol for closing the landfill after it was brought to the NGT’s notice.
The investigation report states that BBMP had not obtained the required environmental clearances from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority for dumping the solid waste into the stone quarries. The inquiry also found that the Palike had violated the Solid Waste Management Rules by dumping mixed waste in the quarry. The BBMP had also forgone the construction of a leachate treatment plant, which is crucial to ensure that the soil and groundwater are not contaminated by the garbage being dumped.
“BBMP has not constructed or provided leachate treatment facility at landfill site and the generated leachate is lifted and transported to Sewerage Treatment Plants, operated by the Bangalore Water Supply Sewerage Board (BWSSB),” the investigation report states.
In January this year, the NGT had noted that the Palike was violating the Solid Waste Management Rules and was illegally dumping garbage in a quarry pit and had turned it into a landfill, causing threat to human health.
On January 17, the BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad had appeared before the NGT and stated that the garbage dumping activities would stop in Bagalur.
Following this, the NGT had instructed the BBMP to begin bio-mining activities in Bagalur to ensure that the garbage is removed from the site. The NGT had also instructed the BBMP to submit a detailed garbage management plan in compliance with the rules.
In March, the NGT noted that the BBMP had failed to follow the tribunal’s order and the Palike was slapped with a fine of Rs 10 lakh as environmental compensation, which was to be paid within two weeks of the order.
On April 5, a bailable warrant was issued against the BBMP Commissioner since he had failed to comply with the tribunal’s orders once again and had not begun bio-mining activities in the site in question.
The NGT once again ordered the BBMP to carry out bio-mining activities and clear the garbage. On September 29, the BBMP finally submitted an affidavit to the tribunal, stating that the test window has been prepared for bio-mining. However, so far, no work has been carried out.
Angered by the Palike’s dereliction, the NGT stated that BBMP was trying to cover up its failures. “There is thus continued defiance by the BBMP, not only in carrying out the directions of this Tribunal but also in performing its statutory duties, which has consequence of threatening the public health and environment. Since we do not find any justification for repeated failure of BBMP, any further opportunity will have to be after requiring payment of compensation for the damage to the environment, in violation of repeated orders of the Tribunal,” Justice Adarsh Kumar said.