Srinagar: With State Pollution Control Board(PCB) blaming unscientific treatment of solid waste by Srinagar Municipal Corporation(SMC) for massive pollution of underground water at Achan, the J&K High Court has asked its Registrar Judicial to make an on- spot inspection of the lone garbage dumping site for Srinagar.
Among other things, a division bench of Justices Hasnain Massodi and Dhiraj Singh Thakur asked the Registrar to report whether any leachate remains untreated at the site.
Apart from accounting to the pollution of the underground water, the leachate has been a source of nuisance in the entire area as well as its neighbourhood.
In-fact during the last summer, the stink of the leachate engulfed almost entire Old City, leaving thousands of people fuming.
The direction to appoint the Registrar was passed by the Bench amid contention by advocate Z A Qureshi, counsel representing the local residents, that underground water does not remain static and leachate from municipal waste continues to leach down and degrade the water.
“It needs to be examined whether all leachate generated passes through three LTPs (Leachate Treatment Plants) or some of it still finds its way to underground water,” the bench said, adding, “It would be just and proper to direct Registrar Judicial High Court wing Srinagar, to make a spot inspection and submit his report inter alia indicating whether any leachate continues to remain untreated and does not pass through LTPs installed at the landfill site.”
No time frame has been given for the report even as the Bench posted the case for further consideration on April 22.
Earlier, SPCB filed report regarding analysis of discharge from LTPs and the court observed that the report on the face of it indicates that the treatment plants are working at optimum level and the discharge does not contaminate the underground water.
On last date of hearing, the Bench had asked the SPCB to take samples of the discharge amid contention that one of the reasons for poor underground water quality might be the poor performance of the LTPs, which were installed by government on directions by the court.
While submitting the report, counsel for SPCB informed the court that unscientific treatment of solid waste during last 30 years on landfill site by Srinagar Municipal Corporation might have degraded the underground water quality.
As per a report by Chief Engineer Public Health Engineering, the turbidity of underground water at the dumping site is enormously higher than the maximum permissible limits.
Against the permissible limit of 10, the turbidity of the water is 5760, 5180 and 4530 at 110 feet, 160 feet and 220 feet respectively.
In another direction, the Bench asked ERA to ensure that the municipal solid waste carried by SMC from households to landfill site is put on High Density Polythene sheets and to cape the waste immediately thereafter with a layer of soil and dispose it of in accordance with mechanism prescribed under rules.
The direction followed showup of the photographs by Qureshi, representing the Achan locals, belying ERA claims.
The counsel for ERA submitted that when waste is brought to the site after its segregation, it is spread on High Density Polythene to ensure that nothing from the waste goes down and then kept covered with soil. However, advocate Qureshi showed few photographs which Bench observed belie the ERA’s claims.
“The waste continues to be dumped on spot and dogs, cattle are seen consuming a part of the waste. The photographs indicate gross negligence on part of the ERA staff and failure on their part,” the Bench said.
Earlier, Commissioner SMC filed an affidavit in compliance to the last directions regarding duties of the Corporation and ERA regarding handling of waste at the site.
While the Bench asked parties to file response to the Commissioner’s affidavit, Counsel for SMC stated that the role of the Corporation is restricted to carrying the garbage from households to the landfill site.
Meanwhile, the court deferred any directions on the submission by advocate Faisal Qadri that the site being used for the last 30 years has outlived its life and was required to be shifted to any other place.
“Advocate Qadri would be free to lay a motion in this regard and append material, if any, in support of his stand with an application so that respondents are asked to file their response,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a PIL filed in 2006 by Farah Khan, then a law student, seeking implementation of the provisions of Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 and Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998 for effective garbage disposal in Srinagar city.