NGT directs district magistrates of all states to monitor compliance of bio-medical waste rules

The National Green Tribunal has directed the District Magistrates in all the states to monitor compliance of Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules twice every month.

The NGT said that it is necessary to have a District Environment Plan to be operated by a District Committee with representatives from Panchayats, Local Bodies, Regional Officers, state pollution control boards (SPCB) and a suitable officer representing the administration, which may in turn be chaired and monitored by the District Magistrate.

“Such District Environment Plans and Constitution of District Committee may be placed on the website of districts concerned. The monthly report of monitoring by the District Magistrate may be furnished to the Chief Secretary and may be placed on the website of the District and kept on such websites for a period of one year. This may be made operative from August 1, 2019. Compliance of this direction may also be seen by the Chief Secretaries of the States/UTs,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said.

The NGT directed all the states and union territories to furnish complete inventory of health care facilities and bio-medical waste generation within two months.

It also expressed disapproval of the inaction of states in furnishing the inventory studies and said it is regretful to note that 25 per cent of identified health care facilities have not even taken authorisation from the concerned state pollution control boards.

“States which have not set up common treatment and disposal facility must do so within two months as per Rules. The States who have not furnished the information on the bar code system may also furnish such information at the earliest but not beyond two months,” the NGT said.

The tribunal said that states which have not yet constituted State Level Advisory Committees may do so within two months.

Further important issues flagged for monitoring include training programs for the concerned officers with enforcement of environment norms at the ground level, reuse of treated water, recharge of ground water, conservation of water bodies.

“It has been brought to our notice that state pollution control boards are facing certain handicaps in performing their functions for want of adequate staff and infrastructure. While this is a matter to be reviewed by concerned Chief Secretaries, they are free to prepare and execute appropriate plans for utilizing the environment restoration fund with the approval of Central Pollution Control Board,” it said.

The NGT said that the expenditure may include hiring of experts and consultants, expanding air and water quality monitoring network, procurement of scientific equipment, undertaking restitution remediation and specialised studies on contaminated sites so that there is effective oversight for enforcement of law.

“Under no circumstances these funds be spent on salaries, logistics etc. The compensation regime suggested by the CPCB may be adopted. It will be open to the SPCBs to adopt a higher scale of compensation, having regard to the problems faced in such states/UTs.

“It is made clear that if even after two months the States/UTs are found to be non-compliant, the compensation will be liable to be recovered from the said States/UTs at the rate of Rs 1 crore per month till the non-compliance continues.  CPCB may file further progress report in the matter after coordination through the concerned authorities of the States, including the State Boards/other Health Departments,” it said while posting the matter for hearing on November 18.

The green panel had earlier came down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh government over its inability to provide exact figure of hospitals, health care centres and nursing homes in the state and directed it to submit complete information within a month.

The tribunal had granted time to the Yogi Adityanath government subject to the condition that it would deposit a performance guarantee of Rs 10 crore.

It had said that the facts in respect of total number of hospitals and other medical bodies have varied so much so that the figure given by the Department of Medical and Health and state pollution control board are different.

The direction came on a plea filed by a UP-based journalist Shailesh Singh seeking directions for closure of all hospitals, medical facilities and waste disposal plants which were not complying with the waste management rules.

It had alleged that rag-pickers were allowed unauthorised transportation of waste and they disposed it in an unscientific manner. The NGT had earlier said there should be no throwing of any medical, bio-medical or any other waste into the Ganga and other water bodies and if any hospital was found throwing such waste anywhere the authorities would recover Rs 20,000 per violation from them.