NGT Pulls Up DPCC For Inaction On Encroachment By Rag Pickers
The NGT has pulled up the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) for its inaction on the encroachment of certain public roads and government land by rag pickers, and their engagement in sorting domestic waste from nearby residential areas without any safety equipment.
The complainant Rohit Yadav, President of RWA, Madipur Village, New Delhi, sent a letter petition to the Tribunal being concerned that the rag pickers were picking and dumping garbage in the residential areas in huge heaps, thus causing a health hazard to themselves as well as the residents nearby.
On receiving the letter, the NGT Principal Bench ordered the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to consider the grievance raised by the RWA President and take appropriate steps in that direction.
However, the Principal Bench was irked to find that the DPCC had simply filed an inspection report, which showed the condition at the site, but no efforts on the part of the Committee or Corporation to deal with the issue. The report confirmed that the rag pickers had encroached upon public land and were found sorting through domestic solid waste without any gloves or safety equipment. The report also confirmed that the land in question belonged to the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Government of India.
The Principal Bench observed that other than issuing a Notice to Deputy Commissioner, SDMC and the Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, DPCC had taken no other effective measure. NGT also didn't fail to notice that the direction to SDMC was made only two days prior to next date of hearing.
Since SDMC had already been issued directions by the Tribunal, the Bench considered the act of DPCC as a 'mere formality' and came down heavily upon the Committee for not doing its statutory duties.
The Bench iterated that issuance of notice does not amount to a redressal of the grievance, and advised DPCC to take concrete measures to resolve the complaint, and not merely "shift its responsibility to other Department". The Bench firmly said that the DPCC should not act as a mere supervisory authority of SDMC, but must ensure that violation of environmental law is redressed.
Accordingly, the DPCC and SDMC were directed by the Principal Bench to effectively deal with the grievance of the RWA. The NGT further directed the Chairman of DPCC to be present for the next hearing on 13th September, 2019.