PCB issues notices to ULBs; warns of hefty penalty, prosecution proceedings

Unabated dumping of municipal solid waste in Wular lake
WCMA fails to act strictly against erring bodies

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, July 5: As there is no let up in dumping of municipal solid waste in the Wular lake in the Kashmir valley, the Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board has issued show-cause notices to the concerned Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) with the warning of imposing hefty penalty and initiating prosecution proceedings if they fail to file tenable response within the prescribed time-frame.
Wular, one of the largest fresh-water lakes in Asia, has already shrunk alarmingly mainly due to the negligence of the authorities concerned. But still continuous attempts are being made to pollute it further mainly by the municipal Bodies, which come under the administrative control of the Housing and Urban Development Department.
Municipal Council Sopore in Baramulla district and Municipal Committee Bandipora are two major Urban Local Bodies which are fearlessly dumping municipal solid waste in the immediate vicinity of Wular in most unscientific manner.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that in the month of March this year Wular Conservation and Management Authority received reports from its team and District Officer of Soil and Water Conservation Department mentioning that Municipal Council Sopore has started encroaching Wular demarcated land at Ningli and resorting to dumping of solid waste.
This act of the Municipal Council was in violation of Environment Protection Act and Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules besides against the directives of the National Green Tribunal, which in its order dated December 16, 2019 had ordered: “All the concerned departments shall ensure that there is no scope of ingress of solid waste in and around the water bodies”.
Though Wular Conser-vation and Management Authority (WCMA) decided to lodge formal complaint before the court against the violation/contravention of provisions by the Municipal Council Sopore yet what happened thereafter was never revealed by the Conservation Authority and the violation of Environment Act and Wetland Conservation Rules continued unabated by this municipal body as well as Municipal Committee Bandipora.
This can be gauged from the notices issued by the Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board to the Executive Officers of Municipal Council Sopore and Municipal Committee Bandipora, the copies of which are available with EXCELSIOR.
“On account of persistent reports about illegal, unscientific and environment unfriendly manner of handling and disposal of the municipal solid waste at Nigli in Sopore and Zalwan Nassu and Gundbal Hajin in Bandipora, a legal notice was served upon you on June 15, 2020 for initiation of legal action against you as warranted under law”, reads the latest notices issued separately to Executive Officers of Municipal Council Sopore and Municipal Committee Bandipora.
As per these notices, fresh reports dated June 25, 2020 about illegal and unscientific handling and disposal of solid waste by Municipal Council Sopore and Municipal Committee Bandipore were received by the Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board from its Regional Director Kashmir along with photographic evidence.
In the notices the Pollution Control Board has specifically mentioned that the unscientific and illegal dumping of municipal solid waste by these municipal bodies have put the environment of the area to grave threat besides the irreversible damage done to flora, ecology and surface/ ground water and ecosystem of the area.
Accordingly, the Pollution Control Board has asked these municipal bodies to show-cause within 15 days as to why Environmental Compensation on the basis of Polluter Pays’ Principle in terms of directions of the National Green Tribunal may not be recovered from them.
The Executive Officers of these Urban Local Bodies have further been asked to show-cause as to why they may not be prosecuted under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for blatant violation of the provisions of Municipal Solid Waste Rules 2016 and National Green Tribunal orders.
It has been made clear in the show cause notices that in the event of not receiving a tenable response within the stipulated time-frame the recovery of Environmental Compensation as per the prescribed and approved guidelines of the National Green Tribunal shall become imperative along with initiation of prosecution proceedings in the court of law without further notice.
“Keeping in view the non-cooperative attitude of the Urban Local Bodies especially on the environment protection front, the Housing and Urban Development Department is required to issue clear cut instructions in this regard to the heads of the ULBs without wasting any time so that nobody dares to cause damage to the environment and whosoever indulges in the same gets exemplary punishment”, sources said.