The Jammu and Kashmir High Court directed the Director, Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir, to file a comprehensive affidavit, indicating all the steps, as mentioned orally by her before the High Court in order to ensure the compliance of laws on the disposal of the garbage from the Sopore town.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Central Auqaf Committee Tarzoo for creating a dumping place for the garbage and for adequate cleaning of the waste and garbage from the Sopore town.
During the pendency of the instant PIL and in terms of order passed on14.09.2020, the Court while noticing the seriousness of the matter, having reference to illegal dumping of municipal solid waste within the demarcated area of Wular Lake and also carrying out unauthorized construction in the said area,directed the Municipal Committee, Sopore, to take steps for removal of municipal solid waste forthwith, dumped within the demarcated area of the Wular Lake, with further direction that the Municipal Committee, Sopore, shall place on record the site plan, the location of the dumping site before the Court, before the next date of hearing.
The Secretary District Legal Services Authority, Baramulla, was also directed to verify the position and submit a report before the Court.Subsequent thereto, the Court desired to visit the spot on noticing that the solid waste was dumped near the famous water body Wular Lake.
The Courtvisited the spot on 10th October, 2020 and on visiting the site, it was observed that the garbage was previously being dumped within the boundaries of the WularLake. The respondents were directed to ensure that no garbage is dumped within the boundaries or within such distance of the Lake as is mandated by the law as well as the International and National Protocols of the area. It was also directed to ensure that there is no pollution of the Lake.
It is noted by the High Court that in terms of order dated 28.10.2020, the respondents were directed to remove all encroachments, which have come within the boundaries and on the banks of Wular Lake in any case within 200 meters of the Wular Lake.
The Secretary District Legal Services Authority, Baramulla, had informed the Court that the Committee of the officials of the Revenue Department,Flood Control and Irrigation Department and the Forest Department have identified the land in Baramulla as well as in Sopore for creation of a solid waste landfill.
The respondents were directed by the High Court that no obstruction shall be caused by any person to the setting up of this site and if need arises, the Police shall ensure provision of adequate security to enable setting up of the garbage dumping sites. Respondentswere further directed to undertake the awareness drive in the area to educate people in devising the generation of work, solid and liquid waste, as also preventing garbage dumping and littering of the area.
In terms of order passed on 05.12.2020, besides other directions, the DeputyCommissioner, Baramulla, and the Chief Executive Director, Wular Conservationand Management Authority, Kashmir, were directed to ensure that there is no dumping of garbage in the area already used by the Municipal Committee, Sopore and other Municipal Committees. On 10.02.2021, the respondents as also theDeputy Commissioner, Baramulla, were directed to ensure that the MunicipalCouncil is taking appropriate effective steps to clear the garbage and, if necessary,to lift the garbage from Sopore Town and dump it at some other authorized garbage center in tune with the directions passed earlier.
It is observed by the High Court from the Action Taken Report filed by the respondents dated 18.05.2021, that the Municipal Committee had identified the land measuring 19 Kanals and 05 Marlas located at Ninglee estate Darnambal for setting up of Solid WasteManagement Facility. The report further reveals that the DPR for the integratedSolid Waste Management Facility has also been prepared by the Executive Officer,Municipal Council, Sopore, which stands submitted for necessary approval and forrelease of the funds to the tune of Rs. 4.30 crores.
On objection of the petitioners to the location of the above site, the response was sought from the Municipal Council, Sopore, as also from the Secretary,District Legal Services Authority, Baramulla.
In terms of order passed on 19.10.2022, the Director Urban Local Bodies,Kashmir, as also the Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, were asked to update the status on the subject about the cleaning of municipal waste/ dumping of garbage and its disposal. The Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, Baramulla was also directed to ensure filing of response.
While dictating the order, the Director, Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir, present in the Court, submitted that a comprehensive plan was prepared for ensuring cleanliness/collection of garbage and its disposal in tune with the scheme of law.She further submitted that the establishment of Material Recovery Facility (MRF) is a time consuming affair, but the Department has already initiated the process of designing these MRFs for further preparation of Detailed Project Reports (DPR)from the PWD and R&B Departments. She further submits that the plan for execution will take some time, but in the meanwhile, the garbage is dumped at Jetty Khawaja bagh, Baramulla, so far as collection of garbage from Municipal CouncilBaramulla/Municipal Council, Sopore is concerned.
It is further submitted that theland measuring 40 Kanals, transferred by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir in terms of order dated 05.04.2022, situated at Darnamabal, Sopore, near Sofi AkbarRoad, has not been used for dumping, as the NOC has not been issued by thePollution Control Board. It is further submitted that some Municipal areas inKashmir under the jurisdiction of Director, Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir, are already in the process of completion of the MRFs, which may be commissioned in near future.
In view of above, the Bench directed the Director, Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir, tofile a comprehensive affidavit, indicating all the steps, as mentioned orally by her before the Court in order to ensure the compliance of laws on the disposal of the garbage with copy in advance to the other side.
‘Needful shall be done by or before the next date of hearing. The petitioners shall be at liberty to file the response. TheExecutive Officers, Municipal Council, Baramulla and Sopore shall ensure collection of garbage and its dumping at the site identified and the same shall also be done in case of other Municipal Councils. In the event, an affidavit is filed, the Director, Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir, need not to appear on the next date ofhearing.List on 14.11.2022,’ the order reads.