The duties of the Municipalities to the community by constructing sanitation facilities at a cost and on a time-bound basis has been highlighted by the Supreme Court of India (SC) in its landmark judgment popularly known as Ratlam Municipality case. SC directed the Municipality to take immediate action to stop the effluents from flowing into the street and take action to stop pollution. Direction issued to construct sufficient number of latrines Special instructions to stop Mosquito breeding. Fill up cesspools and other pits of filth and use its sanitary staff to keep the place free from accumulations of filth.
SC had held that there is a statutory obligation to scavenge and clean city and non availability of funds , in adequacy or inefficiency of staff, insufficiency of machinery cannot be a ground . It is mandatory for these authorities to collect and dispose of the garbage /waste generated from various sources in the city. Non-availability of funds, inadequacy of or inefficiency of the staff , in sufficiency of machinery etc. cannot be pleaded as ground for non-performance of their statutory obligations. Supreme Court issued various directions.
Municipal Authorities obligation to maintain and protect environment has again be highlighted by the SC in another judgment. A municipal land earmarked for public use has been given on lease by the Government. It was held by the SC that Government had no power to sanction lease of the land, which was vested in Municipality. The open lands vested in Municipality were meant for the public amenity to the residents of the locality to maintain ecology, sanitation, recreation, playground and ventilation purposes. The buildings directed to be construed necessarily affect the health and the environment adversely. Sanitation and other effects on the residents in the locality. Therefore the order passed by the Government and the action taken pursuant thereto by the Municipality would clearly defeat the purpose of the scheme. It is not possible to accept the contention that for non-user of open land by the Municipality for more than two decades the land stood divested from the Municipality and vested in them, SC held.
The new Municipal Sold Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1999 were framed for the purpose of proper management of such wastes. For implementation of the said law, SC has directed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi to appoint Magistrates under Sec 20 and/or Sec 21 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for each Board/Circle/Ward for ensuring compliance of the provisions of the MCD and NDMC Acts and to try the offences specified therefore in relation to littering and causing nuisance, sanitation and public health.
Despite all these orders, SC has found that no Rules were not properly implemented by the States. Some suggestions were made by the Almitra.H.Patel. SC issued directions to examine the matter and file proposed future action plan in Court.
Andhra Pradesh HC restrained the Corporation from dumping the garbage in the park in question or in any other park. Corporation shall restore the lost glory of the Green Park, and maintain it properly, the court further held.. The A.P. Pollution Control Board shall monitor the maintenance of the Green Park on regular basis, and in the event it comes to its notice that the Corporation is not maintaining the park and violating provisions of the Municipal Wastes (Management & Handling) Rules, 1999, it may initiate criminal proceedings against the-Corporation, if they violate the same. In addition the the Board is directed to l issue circular to all the Municipal Bodies in the State directing compliance of the aforementioned Rules.
Kerala HC also issued directions to inspect the site where vermin composting is constructed by the Municipality and take appropriate action to ensure effective functioning of that plant. Pollution Control Board is also directed to conduct inspections within the municipal area for carrying out the duties entrusted with them by the Act and the Rules aforesaid.
It is the primary duty of the Municipal Council to remove filth , rubbish, night-soil, odor or any other noxious or offensive matter. It is for the Municipality to see how to perform the primary duties and how to raise resources for the performance of that duty, the Rajasthan High Court has held.
Jammu Kashmir HC reiterated the duties of the Municipalities . Providing drainage and road system not pompous and attractive, but in working condition and sufficient to meet the needs of the people cannot be evaded if the concerned authorities have to justify their existence. Basic grievous amenity of access to potable water is not a luxury but a prerequisite to sustain life. Any plea of financial inability or discriminatory treatment raised by any concerned authority pleas into insignificance because human rights granted under the Constitution have to be respected by the State regardless of budgetary provision. Otherwise, a pachydermic governmental agency may legally defy duties under the law by urging in self defense a self created bankruptcy or perverted expenditure budget, the court added.
Andhra Pradesh HC has reminded that there is an absolute liability on the part of those who are engaged in construction work , particularly of multistoried structures , not to commit nuisance by letting out effluent from their drainage system.
In Kolkotta a refuse -liquid from shellac factory was discharged into the Municipal drain. When questioned the same in court he denied that it was noxious or that it had injuriously affected the plaintiff. Court interfered with the same and injunction was granted and damages awarded. The statutes did not sanction what the Company did nor did they give the Company any right to create nuisance.
Calcutta HC has reiterated that Municipal Corporation has a statutory obligation to clean the garbage and/or to collect the garbage so as to keep the city clean. Corporation is also directed to see that if any plan is submitted by anybody for construction of house on this place it shall not grant permission because if the same was originally this part of the pond and the character of the land was otherwise and was filled up by surreptitious means
M.C.Mehta has filed a PIL before the Orissa HC complaining about the discharge of storm water drain from the Medical College Campus. Report of the Prevention Board was not taken care by the State Government. HC directed the authorities to take immediate action to prevent and control water pollution.
Orissa HC had the occasion to consider a question as to whether the Municipal Corporation has power to open a college. Corporation should not run a college when it is totally bankruptcy and has failed to provide minimum basic amenities to its tax payers. Corporations which are not discharging its constitutional or statutory obligations and duties towards the general public and tax payers of the city in regard to maintenance of roads, drainage system, etc. has started functioning in a manner which is not expected of a civil body the court observed.
The Municipal Board is under a statutory obligation t construct sewers and drains for the discharge of water, both domestic as well as rain, which is likely to cause public nuisance, if allowed to long time, the Rajasthan HC held.
Rajasthan HC has issued direction to the Municipality to construct toilets for public use. The right to life conferred under Art.21 of the Constitution of India includes everything which gives meaning to life and makes it wholesome and with living. People who do not have dwelling places, as compulsion use roads and footpaths for easing themselves. It presents ugly sight and create unhygienic conditions in city but also compromises human dignity. High Court therefore directed the Municipality to construct toilets.
For the garbage disposal and dumping in Goa, the HC directed the Government to frame scheme and committees formed.
The grievances of pollution created daily burning plastic scraps was taken cognizance by the HC by a Telegram .The court directed the authorities to see to it that no garbage is burnt in any thickly populated residential area without clearance from the A.P. Pollution Control Board. Board is directed to depute a qualified person for making surprise inspection as to how and in what manner such garbage collected from the Railways is being disposed of. The Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Hydrabad and all other authorities are also requested to see that no pollution is caused by reason of burning of garbage and in this regard they must render their full cooperation to the authorities of the A.P. Pollution Control Board.
Delhi High Court had the occasion to issue directions to constitute committee to examine issues of sewerage management in detail and to submit a report to the court . The report indicated the action plan and authorities responsible for implementation . Court issued directions to committee to ensure that various works mentioned in action plan should be undertaken as per schedule.
SOME HELPFUL LINKS
Municipal Solid Wastes Management and Handling Rules, 2000 (Full Text)
Municipal Solid Wastes Management and Handling Rules, 2000 -Implementation in Maharastra
© 2012 Environmental Law Research and Guidance Foundation India (ELaw India)