The tribunal slammed the government while hearing a case on Kochi's Brahmapuram waste plant, where tonnes of waste has accumulated over the years.

Tonnes of garbage accumulated over the years in Kochis BrahmapuramGarbage heap in Brahmapuram
news Waste management Wednesday, January 27, 2021 - 10:10

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) came down heavily on the Kerala government over the continued ineffective solid waste management of Kochi’s Brahmapuram waste plant, stating that the administration failed in protecting citizens' right to a clean environment. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice AK Goel said that there was no meaningful action for complying with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and handling of solid waste, in spite of repeated directions in the last two years.

The tribunal's direction came while hearing a case seeking direction to take effective steps for infrastructure development for collection, storage, segregation and disposal of tonnes of waste, termed legacy waste, that has accumulated over the years in Kochi’s Brahmapuram.

The tribunal said that as shown from a report by the State Pollution Control Board, the samples clearly show that the parameters of environmental safety are not being met. The tribunal noted that the Kochi municipal corporation is still continuing unauthorised operations and work is yet to start for bio-mining, while pointing out that compensation has been assessed but not recovered.

“The affidavit of the Chief Secretary does not show that any effective action has been taken on the ground. Thus, the situation is far from satisfactory. One wonders whether the officers dealing with the matter lack in competence,” the bench said.

Read: A walk through the ghost village Brahmapuram, deserted thanks to Kochi's garbage

Failure to uphold environmental rule of law is no different from maintaining law and order and protecting the citizens against crimes, the bench observed. Continuing violation of environmental norms is not only violation of rights of citizens, but also has potential for damage to the public health.

“It is unfortunate that in spite of several orders of this Tribunal for the last two years, the officers concerned have only paid lip service to the issue. There is thus a clear governance deficit which needs to be urgently remedied at the appropriate highest level in the state”, the bench said.

The NGT said there is failure to enforce environmental laws. “We do hope that at least now prompt action will be taken in the matter failing which the Tribunal may have to adopt coercive measures as per law, including prosecution of officers concerned,” it said.

“Least expected is placing of order for execution of legacy waste bio-mining, landscaping of the area and plantation, development of bio-diversity park, rectification of the compost plant, continuous monitoring by the Secretary, Urban Development and quarterly review by the Chief Secretary,” the bench said.

Read: Maradu, Moolampilly and Brahmapuram: The fate of evictees from three places in Ernakulam

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