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Garbage disposal under green tribunal’s scanner

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Shimla, headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, in its orders on March 27, directed the state of Himachal Pradesh and Municipal Council, Kullu to suggest the amount that the tribunal should direct every person to contribute towards municipal council waste and sewage disposal in Kullu and Bhuntar towns.

The NGT further directed the secretary, marketing committee, Bhuntar, to submit an affidavit with complete details and photographs of the site near Beas where the tractor owner (contractor) had earlier thrown vegetable waste and had now submitted before the tribunal that he had done that at the instance of the Nagar Palika, Bhuntar.

Besides having regular staff for cleaning the municipal limits, the municipal committee Kullu had launched a new initiative for the past around six months. It had engaged a private contractor to collect door-to-door garbage. A monthly fees of Rs 50 to Rs 300 was being charged from the residents, varying between dwellings and commercial properties, for garbage collection.

Many residents had earlier resented the additional charge for the task that was being carried out since ages by paying house tax and other levy, to the municipal committee. Some residents still prefer to provide waste to regular collectors and blame the staff engaged by the contractor to be non-proficient and lacking punctuality.

A resident alleged that the staff was simply interested in a bulge in customer database.

Most of the residents opined that the fees should be directly collected by the municipal authorities, as the receipts provided by the contractor were without a carbon copy backup and signified there was negligible check and regulation on operations and account books of the contractor. Some of the residents were pleased with the new door-to-door garbage collection service and termed the regular staff to be inefficient and incompetent.

Environmentalists rued that even after charging of such hefty fees by the municipal authorities, there was no proper disposal mechanism for disposal of domestic waste and the landfill disposal site near Mohal flouted the norms as it was close to the river. It encroached upon forest land and was near inhabited areas. IPH department also charged on quarterly basis for sewerage connection, besides millions having been spent on laying of sewage pipelines within the municipal limits.

Abhishek Rai, president, Himalayan Environment Protection Society (HEPS), an NGO, rued that some water samples of five such sewage treatment plants in Manali, Sarwari, Lanka Baker, Bhunter and Sarabai failed chemical and bacterial tests.

President of Municipal Committee Kullu, Rishabh Kalia, said proper and scientific disposal of domestic waste was done at treatment plant in Mohal and door-to-door garbage collection scheme was a big success in maintaining the cleanliness of the town.

He said due to increasing population of the town and lack of manpower with the committee, the regular staff deployed for cleaning the municipal limits was not able to cope with the increased pressure of garbage collection and the job was thus outsourced to a private contractor.

IPH, SDO, Hazari confirmed that the water samples discharged into the Beas by the sewage treatment plants of this district were found to be within the permissible limits and report of the same had been submitted by the counsellors appointed by the NGT.

As for the new fees, residents opined that without proper regulation and audit, proper utilisation of the funds so collected is important, or else their fate could be the same as that of the green tax collected at Manali.

Green tribunal order
 The state of Himachal Pradesh and Municipal Council, Kullu have been directed to suggest the amount that the tribunal should direct every person to contribute towards municipal council waste and sewage disposal in Kullu and Bhuntar towns
 The NGT directed the secretary, marketing committee, Bhuntar, to submit an affidavit with complete details and photographs of the site near Beas where the contractor had earlier thrown vegetable waste and had now submitted before the tribunal that he had done that at the instance of the Nagar Palika, Bhuntar

The Tribune (02-04-2014)