The Supreme Court slammed Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal on Thursday for betraying the attitude of a “superman” but doing nothing to get the “mountains of garbage” in Delhi cleared by taking appropriate action on the issue of solid waste management.
Describing the situation in Delhi over solid waste management as “absolutely bizarre”, the apex court referred to the city’s “mountains of garbage” at three landfill sites in Ghazipur, Okhla and Bhalswa, pointing out that there was a 65-metre garbage mound at Ghazipur which was “only eight metres less than the Qutub Minar”.
The court said no action had been taken by authorities, including the office of the LG, due to which Delhi was facing the serious problem.
A Bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta, castigated the LG’s “attitude”, saying no official from his office had bothered to attend a meeting chaired by the Delhi health minister on the solid waste management matter.
“Here nobody from the LG office bothered to attend the meeting and he (LG) says that I have the power and I am the ‘superman’,” the Bench said.
The office of LG and the Delhi government told the bench that municipal corporations had the responsibility to deal with the issue of solid waste management.
“This is nothing but passing the buck. The (Municipal) Corporations are doing this, so it is their duty. Because I (LG) am a powerful man, nobody can touch me and I will not do nothing. This is the attitude,” said the anguished bench.
The top court had on 10 July asked the Centre and the Delhi government to clarify who could be held responsible for clearing the “mountains of garbage” in the city ~ those reporting to LG Anil Baijal or to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Referring to the affidavits filed by the LG’s office and the AAP-led Delhi government in this regard, the apex court said both had said solid waste management in Delhi was the municipal corporations’ responsibility and that the LG had the authority to issue directions in this regard under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act.
“Is the office of the LG responsible? According to your affidavit, the answer is yes. Then do not bring the Chief Minister into this,” said the bench.
The court also termed as “utopian” the state’s policy on solid waste management strategy framed by the LG office, and observed that perhaps it would be impossible to implement as the East Delhi Municipal Corporation and the North Delhi Municipal Corporation didn’t have funds to carry out their day-to-day affairs.
Coming down hard on the LG, the court said that despite convening 25 meetings on the issue, Delhi was still under “mountains of dumps”.
The bench directed the office of the LG to file an affidavit by July 16 indicating the time frame on the steps it was supposed to take to deal with the situation.
The top court’s direction came days after its verdict on the power tussle between the Lieutenant Governor and the Aam Aadmi Party government in which it held that the LG had no independent power to take decisions and was bound by the elected government’s aid and advice.
It had also slapped fines on 10 states and two union territories for not filing their affidavits on their policies for solid waste management strategy.
On March 27, the top court had said that days are not far when garbage mounds at the Ghazipur landfill site in Delhi will match the height of the iconic 73-metre high Qutub Minar and red beacon lights will have to be used to ward off aircraft flying over it.
(With agency inputs)