Some days back Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) imposed a penalty of Rs one lac on a contractor for unscientific waste disposal.
According to an SMC statement which was given wide publicity by local press in Srinagar a truck (tipper) driver namely Parvez Ahmad Ganai who is a resident of Boniyar Baramulla was caught red handed while dumping waste illegally around Panthachowk- atmaloo road (Nowgam bypass).
The statement said that the tipper driver was also dumping waste near the banks of Doodh Ganga flood channel, but the exact location was not given. This channel is more than a kilometre stretch starting from Bagh e Mehtab which crosses through Rawalpora and Pir Bagh areas of Srinagar uptown.
It is a fact that a large amount of solid waste has been dumped around Panthachowk – Batmaloo road near Nowgam bypass area (NH-44) for the last several years, but authorities, particularly the SMC never acted against the people who were involved in this heinous act. The Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) that is the owner of this whole stretch of land also didn’t act against the illegal waste dumping.
One can see mounds of waste on the left side of the highway just after crossing Nowgam bypass petrol pump ( Nowgam-Pantha Chowk road). I am sure it is not the local individuals who have been dumping this waste there, but has been the handiwork of some people who were given various sanitation contracts around the airport, and surrounding areas.
Some wholesale dealers and local business houses who generate large amounts of waste also have been dumping their waste around this area. These people, I am sure have been doing this work in league with the officials of SMC or SDA. This seems to have been exposed after the matter came to the SMC Commissioner.
In-fact I too have been getting complaints after this illegal garbage dump site created at Nowgam for the last many years. I tried to bring this into notice of the Govt but that didn’t help at all.
I am grateful to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that gave some very good orders on unscientific waste management around Doodh Ganga which also included levying a Rs 3 crore penalty on Govt officials and polluters. It is quite evident that SMC has started acting in response to NGT’s order and the polluters are being penalised.
Rs 1 lakh penalty
Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) press statement claimed that a truck (tipper) with registration JK02AC-3649 was illegally unloading and dumping heaps of garbage on the banks of Doodh Ganga flood channel and Pantha Chowk-Batamaloo Bye-pass road
The SMC statement reads
“For the last few months it was observed that heavy loads of garbage was illegally unloaded and dumped by some unscrupulous elements on the banks of Doodh Ganga flood channel, Panthachowk-Batmaloo Bye Pass Road especially in the Nowgam stretch, interior city such as Tengpora, Rawalpora, Sanat Nagar, Barzulla Bridge, Mehjoor Nagar. Whereas, on 1/1/2022 at around 10.42 PM in one of the operations the tipper bearing No: JK02AC 3649 was caught red handed while unloading a tipper full of loads of garbage at Rawalpora near Govt. School. However, the tipper driver forcibly with the help of some unknown persons managed to flee from the spot. The Corporation while acting on a tip off, on 18/3/2022 at around 11 PM the tipper was again caught unloading bulk of garbage at Barzulla near bridge. The tipper was managed to be seized and taken into custody by the Corporation. It was found that the tipper was working with one M/S. Buhroo Trading Corporation, which is under service contract to Station HQ, Old Airfield, Rangreth and the waste collected from the Station HQ is being dumped within the territorial jurisdiction of Corporation in crude manner and in a brazen violation of environmental laws and rules. Whereas, vide order dated 8/3/2022 in an OA No. 241/2021 titled Raja Muzaffar Bhat v/s Union of India & others, the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal, authorised UT authorities to impose costs on polluters. The illegal dumping of waste is also a grave offence under SWM Rules, 2016 and J&K Municipal Corporation Act, 2000. Whereas, vide a representation submitted by the defaulter and received under receipt No. 2871 dated 30/3/2022, confessing to the offence and apologized for the act now, therefore, consequent upon the order dated 8/3/2022 in an OA No. 241/2021 issued by Hon’ble Tribunal and the authority of imposing costs on the polluters given to the State/UT thereunder, and as confessed to the offence a fine to the tune of Rs. 1.00 lac (Rupees one lac only) has been imposed on the defaulter for the above said illegal acts, to be deposited in the Municipal Chest within a period of 10 days. The Solid Waste Management Officer, SMC has been asked to release the vehicle in question on the production of the GR of the said amount by the above owner/driver of the tipper "
The SMC dossier mentions two locations where from the tipper driver was caught red handed dumping the waste unscientifically. If the tipper driver committed an offence on January 1st 2022 by dumping waste near Govt High School Rawalpora (Srinagar Old Airfield road) why did it take so many months to expose the same? Why didn’t SMC come up with a press statement then? Then this driver was again caught on 18/3/2022 while dumping waste near Barzulla bridge.
Again this was not highlighted in the media by SMC. As NGT started acting tough and issued an order on March 8th 2022 for recovering Rs 3 crores penalty from erring Govt officers and polluters, SMC decided to recover Rs 1 lakh from the M/S Buhroo Trading Corporation. This is a very good decision and I would suggest the contractor should be blacklisted by Station Headquarter Airforce 1 Wing Srinagar Rangreth.
The contract agreement between bidder & station headquarters in fact should have a mention of the site of waste disposal and the officers AF 1 wing Rangreth should have inspected the site or taken an NOC from SMC and then only allotted the contract to the bidder.
This needs to be viewed seriously and SMC must penalise the intending agency or agencies located around Old Airfield as well who are not looking into these technical issues for the last many years while allotting the sanitation contract.
Will SMC also pay the penalty itself as they have set up several “storm water “ pump stations on Doodh Ganga that pump out untreated waste water into Doodh Ganga? These stations are located at Old Chanapora, Natipora, Barzulla, Bulbul Bagh and Tengpora. What about the huge pump station set up under the Chanapora bypass bridge by ERA? Large amount of untreated wastewater directly enters Doodh Ganga in this area? Will penalty money be recovered from ERA or UEED as well?
Threat to Aircrafts
Unscientific waste disposal around Doodh Ganga from Chadoora to Tengpora is a very serious issue. This can cause not only environmental disaster but can lead to aircraft accidents as well, because huge waste is lying scattered around many villages of Chadoora like Kaisermulla, Bugam, Wathoora, Buchroo, Lalgam, Panzan, Gudsathoo etc. These villages are located in the vicinity of Srinagar airport and the aerial distance of aircrafts is very little when airlines pass through these villages during takeoff or landing.
A detailed report published in Hindustan Times on April 22nd , 2019 revealed that Indian airports have recorded a steady increase in the number of bird hits and aircraft run-ins with stray animals over at least the past five years. In 2018, the number of bird hits and animal strikes was 1,244, compared with 1,125 in 2017, 839 in 2016, 764 in 2015 and 719 in 2014. These details were provided by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by Hindustan Times.
The strike rate is a measure of the number of bird hits and animal strikes per 10,000 aircraft movements and it reflects the expansion of air traffic in India and airline fleets. In 2014, Indian carriers had 410 aircraft with 8.41 lakh flights operating in 2013-14. In 2017-18 the aircraft traffic increased to 13.01 lakh while total aircraft with Indian carriers were 620. The strike rate was 4.86 in 2015, 4.57 in 2016, 4.71 in 2017 and 4.82 in 2018.
During 2020 to 2021 the air traffic was very low due to the COVID 19 pandemic. At a time when we have 100 flights landing in Srinagar daily, and the same number of flights taking off, authorities at helm need to undertake a safety audit outside the airport premises as well.
The Airport Authority of India (AAI), Indian Air Force, representatives from villages located around Srinagar airport and District Administration Budgam must sit and hold a brainstorming session on this issue. In fact many years back (around 2016-2017) I had brought this matter into the notice of Station Commander Airforce 1 Wing, Srinagar, during one such meeting.
But being a defence organisation they have some limitations in working in civilian areas. I believe AAI & District Administration Budgam can devise a mechanism for scientific waste disposal around the habitations near Srinagar airport which fall under territorial jurisdiction of Budgam district.
The NGT’’s order to recover Rs 3 crore penalty money should be implemented without any bias. I am sure DC Budgam has opened a separate bank account where the penalty money is to be deposited as per the orders of NGT. This has to be recovered mostly from SMC, ERA, UEED and Geology & Mining Departments.
As the order suggests the money has to be used for scientific waste management around Doodh Ganga. But that is not sufficient. The Government will have to spend more money and the Ministry of Civil Aviation & Indian Airforce can also contribute towards it.
I believe the Airport Authority of India (AAI), Indian Air Force, Mission Director SBM Gramin & District Administration Budgam can devise a mechanism for scientific waste disposal around the habitations near Srinagar airport which fall under territorial jurisdiction of Budgam district.
The local population in these areas should be taken on board before making any decision. The District Administration Budgam on the orders of Chief Secretary Dr A K Mehta has been involved in village clean up programmes for more than 3 weeks now, but the activities undertaken are not scientific as most of this waste is being earth filled which is a heinous crime under MSW Rules 2016. The administration should have taken advice from the experts in the field of sanitation and waste management before execution of these works.
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Acumen Fellow. He is Founder & Chairman of J&K RTI Movement and Anant Fellow for Climate Action.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.