JUSTICE B.N. KIRPAL, . JUSTICE M.B. SHAH & JUSTICE
Almitra.H.Patel and another
vs. Union of India .
B.N. Kirpal, J.
More in anguish, than out of anger, this Court nearly four years ago in Dr.
B.L. Wadhera v. Union of India and others, 1996(2) SCC 594 at 595 observed :
"Historic city of Delhi - the capital of India - is one of the must
polluted cities in the world. The authorities, responsible for pollution
control and environment protection, have not been able to provide clean and
healthy environment to the residents of Delhi. The ambient air is so much
polluted that it is difficult to breathe. More and more Delhites are suffering
from respiratory diseases and throat infections. River Yamuna - the main
source of drinking water supply - is the free dumping place for untreated
sewage and industrial waste. Apart from air and water pollution, the city is
virtually an open dustbin. Garbage strewn all over Delhi is a common sight.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (the MCD) constituted under the Delhi
Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 (Delhi Act) and the New Delhi Municipal
Council (the NDMC) constituted under the New Delhi Municipal Council Act, 1994
(New Delhi Act) are wholly remiss in the discharge of their duties under law.
It is no doubt correct that rapid industrial developments, urbanisation and
regular flow of persons from rural to urban areas have made major contribution
towards environmental degradation but at the same time the authorities -
entrusted with the work of pollution control - cannot be permitted to sit back
with folded hands on the pretext that they have no financial or other means to
control pollution and protect the environment." The Court then proceeded
to issue 14 directions in an effort to see that the capital of the biggest
democracy in the world is not branded as being one of the most polluted cities
in the world.
2. It is indeed unfortunate that despite more than sufficient time having
elapsed the condition of Delhi has not improved. The citizens of Delhi
increasingly suffer from respiratory and other diseases, the river Yamuna is
highly polluted and garbage and untreated domestic and industrial waste is
being either freely dumped into the said river or is left on open land, large
volume of which remains unattended.
3. The present writ petition is concerned with the question of solid waste
disposal. By order dated 16th January, 1998 this Court constituted a Committee
headed by Mr. Asim Burmon to look into all aspects of urban solid waste
management and in particular to the following four areas :
"1. Examine the existing practices and to suggest hygienic processing and
waste disposal practices and proven technologies on the basis of economic
feasibility and safety which the Corporations/Government may directly or
indirectly adopt or sponsor.
2. Examine and suggest ways to improve conditions in the formal and informal
sector for promoting eco-friendly sorting, collection, transportation,
disposal, recycling and reuse.
3. To review Municipal bye-laws and the powers of local bodies and regional
planning authorities and suggest necessary modifications to ensure effective
budgeting, financing, administration, monitoring and compliance.
4. Examine and formulate standards and regulations for management of urban
solid waste, and set time frame within which the authorities shall be bound to
implement the same."
4. After a preliminary and then the final report of the said committee was
received notices were issued to all the States who were required to file their
responses to the report of the committee. None of the States really opposed
the recommendations made by the committee and it is noticed that the responses
of the States were in fact positive. Keeping the aforesaid report in mind,
Management of Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1999 were
notified by the Central Government which, as the heading itself suggests, deal
with the question as to how the solid waste in the cities is to be managed and
5. In this Court's order dated 15th October, 1999 it was indicated that we
proposed to take up the question of cleaning of four metropolitan cities,
namely, Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta and Delhi as also the city of Bangalore.
6. We have first heard counsel appearing on behalf of the National Capital
Territory of Delhi in connection with the management and handling of the solid
waste. It was in this connection that our attention was drawn to the 14
directions issued by this Court in Dr. B.L. Wadhera's case (supra). it is
indeed unfortunate that till today the said directions have not been complied
with. When this was put to the learned counsel appearing for Delhi as to why
the said directions were not complied with, there was, in effect, no
satisfactory answer. For example, sites for landfill have not been identified
and handed over to the MCD nor have four additional compost plants been
constructed though specific direction in this regard was issued in Dr. B.L.
Wadhera's case. The Court also approved of the experimental scheme placed
before it by the MCD where-under certain localities had been selected for
distribution of polythene bags and collection of garbage from door to door but
no effective progress appears to have been made in this regard. These are but
a few examples which show non-compliance of the directions issued.
(sic) not very small, keeping the city clean is indeed a daunting task. Just
because the work involved is difficult cannot be a reason for lack of
initiative or inaction on the part of the authorities concerned.
7. We are informed that one of the local authorities, namely, MCD itself
employ about forty thousand safai karamcharis. This is in addition to the
staff employed by other local bodies, namely, the NDMC and the Cantonment
Board. Like all government and municipal employees these karamcharis are
expected to work for the stipulated period of time, namely, eight hours a day.
It was submitted by Mr. Dushyant Dave, learned Amicus Curiae that the
insanitary conditions of different areas of Delhi do not in any way show that
requisite effort has been put in or required time spent in the cleaning
operations which are supposed to be carried out by this large workforce. These
employees are more invisible than visible. There appears to be a complete lack
of accountability, at all levels of the Corporation, in this behalf.
8. Keeping Delhi clean is not an easy task but then it is not an impossible
one either. What is required is initiative, selfless zeal and dedication and
professional pride, elements which are sadly lacking here.
9. Surat had for time immemorial been known to be one of the dirtiest cities
in the country. The plague there in 1995 was the result of the filth which had
accumulated therein. Nevertheless the effort of one main, namely, the
Municipal Commissioner, who worked in the field and in the office with
dedication resulted in not only eradicating the plague and cleaning up Surat
but gave the city of Surat the distinction of being the second most clean city
in the whole of India. The people of Surat who threw garbage all around were
so affected by the tireless effort of one person that they themselves have now
become zealous guardians of their new found clean city of Surat. This shows
what one man as a head of the organisation, like Municipal Corporation, with
selfless zeal, initiative and dedication and without allowing any outside
interference can achieve by motivating his employees to clean up the city
while acting fairly, justly and efficiently within the four corners of the
10. In Delhi which is the capital of the country and which should be its show
piece no effective initiative of any kind has been taken by the numerous
governmental agencies operating here in cleaning up the city. As a result
thereof the Court had in Dr. B.L. Wadhera's case, per force, to step in
because of the non-performance or non-implementation of the law by the
municipal authorities. The law, inter alia, makes it obligatory on them to
discharge their municipal functions and at least prevent filth and garbage
from lying strewn at different public places causing hazard to public health.
11. The local authorities are constituted for providing services to the
citizens - not merely to provide employment to a few of its inhabitants.
Tolerating filth, while not taking action against the lethargic and
inefficient workforce for fear of annoying them, is un-understandable and
impermissible. Non-accountability has possibly led to lack of effort on the
part of the employees concerned. They are perhaps sanguine in their belief
that non-performance is not frowned upon by the Government or by the heads of
the organisations and no harm will befall them.
12. Domestic garbage and sewage is a large contributor of solid waste. The
drainage system in a city is intended to cope and deal with household
effluent. This is so in a planned city. But when a large number of inhabitants
live in unauthorised colonies, with no proper means of dealing with the
domestic effluents, or in slums with no care for hygiene the problem becomes
13. Establishment or creating of slums, it seems, appears to be good business
and is well organised. The number of slums has multiplied in the last few
years by geometrical proportion. Large areas of public land, in this way, are
usurped for private use free of cost. It is difficult to believe that this can
happen in the capital of the country without passive or active connivance of
the land owning agencies and/or the municipal authorities. The promise of free
land, at the taxpayers' cost, in place of a jhuggi, is a proposal which
attracts more land grabbers. Rewarding an encroacher on public land with free
alternate site is like giving a reward to a pickpocket. The department of slum
clearance does not seem to have cleared any slum despite its being in
existence for decades. In fact more and more slums are coming into existence.
Instead of `Slum Clearance' there is `Slum Creation' in Delhi. This in turn
gives rise to domestic waste being strewn on open land in and around the
slums. This can best be controlled at least, in the first instance, by
preventing the growth of slums. The authorities must realise that there is a
limit to which the population of a city can be increased, without enlarging
its size. In other words the density of population per square kilometer cannot
be allowed to increase beyond the sustainable limit. Creation of slums
resulting in increase in density has to be prevented. What the slum clearance
department has to show, however, does not seem to be visible. It is the
garbage and solid waste generated by these slums which require to be dealt
with most expeditiously and on the basis of priority.
14. It was suggested by the learned Amicus Curiae that we should issue various
directions to the MCD and the NDMC including direction relating to the manner
in which the solid waste generated in Delhi is to be handled. We believe it is
not for this Court to direct as to how the municipal authorities should carry
out their functions and resolve difficulties in regard to the management of
solid waste. The Court, in fact, is ill-equipped to do so. Without doubt the
Governmental agencies including the local authorities have all the powers of
the State to take action and ensure that the city remains clean. They have
only to wake up and act. The Court should, however, direct that the local
authorities, Government and all statutory authorities must discharge their
statutory duties and obligations in keeping the city at least reasonably
clean. We propose to do so now by issuing appropriate directions.
15. Before we pass the necessary orders some difficulties are stated to have
been encountered in implementing some of the directions in Dr. B.L. Wadhera's
case (supra) which need to be dealt with.
16. One of the difficulties pointed out before us was that even though the MCD
and the NDMC Acts permit action being taken, inter alia against persons who
litter the city, sufficient number of judicial magistrates are not available
for ensuring proper enforcement of the provisions of the said Acts. But the
shortage of judicial magistrates can be easily overcome by the Government
appointing suitable persons as Executive Magistrates under Section 20 or
Special Executive Magistrates under Section 21 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure who can be empowered to deal with such minor offences under the
provisions of the MCD and NDMC Acts. There are large number of retired
government officials and ex-defence officers who have held responsible posts
and are living in Delhi who, we are sure, will be willing to act as such
Magistrates. Delhi is divided into a number of Municipal wards and for every
ward one or more Executive Magistrate or Special Executive Magistrate can
easily be appointed. This will also take some burden of the Courts.
17. The counsel for the MCD has submitted that despite orders having been
passed in Dr. B.L. Wadhera's case (supra) sufficient number of sites for
landfills have neither been identified nor handed over to it. One of the
reasons for the sites not being made available, it was stated, was that land
owning agencies like the DDA or the Government of National Capital Territory
of Delhi are demanding market value of the land of more than rupees forty lacs
per acre before the land can be transferred to MCD. Keeping Delhi clean is a
governmental function. There are more than one agencies that administer Delhi,
namely, Union of India through Ministry of Urban Development, Government of
National Capital Territory of Delhi, Commissioner of MCD, Chairman, NDMC,
Cantonment Board and the DDA. It is the duty of all concerned to see that
landfills sites are provided in the interest of public health. Providing of
landfill sites is not a commercial venture, which is being undertaken by the
MCD. It is as much the duty of the MCD as that of other authorities enumerated
above to see that sufficient sites for landfills to meet the requirement of
Delhi for next twenty years are provided. Not providing the same because the
MCD is unable to pay an exorbitant amount is un-understandable. Landfill site
has to be provided and it is wholly immaterial which Governmental agency or
the local authority has to pay the price for it. As for nearly four years
since the direction was issued in Dr. B.L. Wadhera's case (supra) this problem
has not been solved it has now become necessary for this Court to issue
appropriate directions in this behalf, which we shall presently do.
18. One of the important directions issued in Dr. B.L. Wadhera's case was
regarding the construction of compost plants. In addition to the compost plant
at Okhla, which was expected to be in operation by 1st June, 1996, four
additional compost plants were to be constructed, as recommended by Jagmohan
Committee. This has not happened and even land for sufficient number of
compost plants has not been identified or handed over. It has, therefore,
become necessary to issue time-bound directions in this behalf.
19. Uptill now no action has been taken against people who spread litter.
Discipline amongst people in this behalf has to be inculcated and the guilty
punished. Appropriate orders in this behalf are proposed to be issued
including the appointment of Magistrates under Section 20 and/or Section 21 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure, inter alia, to deal with such cases.
20. In addition to and not in derogation of the orders passed by this Court in
Dr. B.L. Wadhera's case (supra), we order as follows :
1. We direct the Municipal Corporation of Delhi through the Commissioner, NDMC
through its Chairman and the Cantonment Board through its Executive Officer
and all other concerned officials including Sanitation Superintendents/Chief
Sanitary Inspectors/Sanitary Inspectors/Assistant Sanitary Inspectors/Sanitary
Guides/Medical Officers to ensure that the relevant provisions of the DMC Act,
1957, New Delhi Municipal Council Act, 1994 and the Cantonments Act, 1924
relating to sanitation and public health prohibiting accumulation of any
rubbish, filth, garbage or other polluted obnoxious matters in any premises
and/or prohibiting any person from depositing the same in any street or public
place shall be scrupulously complied.
2. We direct that the streets, public premises such as parks etc. shall be
surface cleaned on daily basis, including on Sundays and public holidays.
3. We direct and authorise the MCD, NDMC and other statutory authorities
through competent officers, as may be designated by them, (but not lower than
in the rank of Sanitary Superintendent or equivalent post) to levy and recover
charges and costs from any person littering or violating provisions of the
diverse Acts, Bye-laws and Regulations relating to sanitation and health for
violating the directions being issued herein. For this purpose the
Commissioner, MCD, Chairman, NDMC and other concerned heads of sanitary
authorities will prepare and publish for the information of public at large
the scale of such charges/costs as may be levied and recovered in respect of
the diverse acts of commission/omission. The charges/costs will be recoverable
on the spot by such designated officers from any person found littering or
throwing rubbish and causing nuisance so as to affect sanitation and public
health. The Commissioner, MCD and Chairman, NDMC and other authorities may
frame and publish such schemes as may be necessary to ensure compliance of
these directions forthwith. Till the scheme is framed and published, the
authorities named above would recover Rs. 50/- as charges and costs from any
person littering or violating provisions of the Municipal Corporation Act,
Bye-laws and Regulations relating to sanitation and health. This part be
published and implemented at the earliest through concerned Sanitary
4. We direct the MCD through the Commissioner, NDMC through its Chairman and
other statutory authorities through their respective heads to ensure proper
and scientific disposal of waste in a manner so as to subserve the common
good. In this connection they shall endeavour to comply with the suggestions
and directions contained in the report prepared by the Asim Burmon Committee.
5. We direct that sites for land fills will be identified bearing in mind the
requirement of Delhi for the next twenty years within a period of four weeks
from today by the exercise jointly conducted by Union of India through the
Ministry of Urban Development, Government of National Capital Territory of
Delhi, Commissioner, MCD and Chairman, NDMC and other heads of statutory
authorities like the DDA etc. These sites will be identified keeping in mind
the environmental considerations and in identifying the same Central Pollution
Control Board's advice will be taken into consideration. The sites so
identified shall be handed over to the MCD and/or NDMC within two weeks of the
identification, free from all encumbrances and without MCD or the NDMC having
to make any payment in respect thereof.
6. We direct Union of India through the Ministry of Urban Development,
Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, Commissioner of MCD,
Chairman NDMC and other statutory authorities like DDA and Railways to take
appropriate steps for preventing any fresh encroachment or unauthorised
occupation of public land for the purpose of dwelling resulting in creation of
a slum. Further appropriate steps be taken to improve the sanitation in the
existing slums till they are removed and the land reclaimed.
7. We further direct Union of India through Ministry of Urban Development,
Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, Commissioner MCD, Chairman
NDMC and other statutory authorities like DDA etc. to identify and make
available to the MCD and NDMC within four weeks from today sites for setting
up compost plants. Initially considering the extent of solid waste, which is
required to be treated by compost plants, the number of sites which should be
made available will be eight. Such sites shall be handed over to the MCD/NDMC
free of cost and free from all encumbrances within two weeks of
identification. MCD and NDMC shall thereupon take appropriate steps to have
the compost plants/processing plants established or caused to be established
and to be in operation by 30th September, 2000.
8. We direct the MCD, NDMC and other statutory authorities concerned with
sanitation and public health to regularly publish the names of concerned
Superintendents of Sanitation and such equivalent officers who are responsible
for cleaning Delhi who can be approached for any complaint/grievance by the
citizens of Delhi together with their latest office and residential telephone
numbers and addresses.
9. We direct the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi to appoint
Magistrates under Section 20 and/or Section 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 therefor in
relation to littering and causing nuisance, sanitation and public health.
These appointments shall be made within a period six weeks from today in
conformity with the reasons contained in this order.
10. All the concerned authorities will file compliance reports of these
directions within eight weeks from today. The Central Pollution Control Board
will also file within the same time an affidavit indicating to what extent the
directions issued have been complied with.
21. It is needless to say that the violation of the directions issued by this
Court shall be viewed seriously.