Powered by

Home On Ground

Approach towards SWM handling at Gulmarg “Cosmetic”: Experts

The unauthorized and unscientific garbage dumping site at Gulmarg poses a significant threat to visiting tourists. It emanates a foul smell and attracts a large population of stray canines and wild animals, further exacerbating the potential dangers.

By Jahangir Sofi
New Update
solid waste management gulmarg

Part one of the investigative series on waste management at Gulmarg highlighted the concerns raised by experts' and whistleblowers' who criticised the SWM strategy as "poor" and "unscientific". Part two focuses on the cosmetic approach to solid waste management in the woods of Gulmarg.

Ground Report’s exclusive Investigative Report PartTwo

The second part of this investigative series mentions and highlights how the various government and independent bodies during the ongoing year approached the Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) in seeking their attention towards their handling of waste management and the functioning status of the Solid Waste Management (SWM) plant.

The experts and locals are maintaining that they are not observing any substantial improvement on the ground in terms of mitigation of the solid waste and garbage issue in the area despite repeated communications and reminders.

While the insiders associated with the lifting and dumping of garbage on condition of anonymity told Ground Report that recently around 20 tippers of garbage were taken to Srinagar’s Achan dumping site, information which was also confirmed by a senior official at Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).

Unscientific Exercises Not Less Than A Disaster

According to Advocate Nadeem Qadri, an environmental lawyer, the act of moving garbage from one site to another can be considered legally acceptable under a "specified" provision of the law. However, he criticizes and describes this approach as mere temporary and cosmetic measures. Qadri argues that without a proper and scientific waste management strategy in place, these temporary and unscientific efforts can be disastrous and pose a significant threat to the local ecology.

Raising questions and expressing concerns on the move of shifting of garbage from Gulmarg to the Achan dumping site in Srinagar, he also questioned if Srinagar’s only dumping site has the capacity to accommodate garbage dumps generated in other districts.

Non-Seriousness To National Green Tribunal

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, a climate activist told Ground Report that he is left with no option other than to take the issue of Solid Waste Management to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Court.

“There are rules for the management of Solid Waste (MSW) 2016, unfortunately, the rules are not followed and for a place like Gulmarg, government should have been more concerned about the management of Solid waste”, he remarked.

Stating that he is left with no option, but to approach the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Court, Bhat said likewise they had taken up the issue of Doodh Ganga to NGT after which the government was penalized, they would now take up the issue of poor SWM at Gulmarg and would take all the concerned government bodies to NGT court.

Numerous autonomous entities and governmental organizations have expressed their concerns regarding the inadequate performance of the Solid Waste Management (SWM) plant. These entities have specifically emphasized the urgent need for the GDA to address the accumulation of scattered garbage mounds at the Gulmarg dumping site and dispose of them promptly.

Unscientific Dumping, Inviting Canine Population & Wild Animals

Communication has brought attention to the fact that the Garbage Dumping Site at Gulmarg poses a significant danger to tourists. It has been pointed out that the unauthorized and unscientific disposal of waste at the site not only emits a foul smell but also attracts a large number of stray canines, as well as wild animals such as black bears and leopards.

Notice For Violation Of Orders Of High Court of J&K & Ladakh

In May this year, Qadri who is the Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Law in a legal notice under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to the Chief Executive Officer, of Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA), related to the implementation of Solid Waste (Management & Handling) for the violation of the orders of the High Court of J&K and Ladakh.

The legal notice states, “shocking and disturbing pictures are received by our Green Office, from the concerned likeminded individuals and reliable sources regarding the unabated dumping of Solid Waste inside the Forest Compartment No. 47-B at Gulmarg in gross violation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India read with the Orders of the Hon’ble High Court of J&K and Ladakh.”

The notice highlights that the Division Bench of the  High Court of J&K and Ladakh has passed the order dated 07.07.2017 in PIL No. 14 of 2012 and directed all the respondents that; “We make it clear at this stage that in case orders of this Court are not complied with in letter and spirit by the various authorities and officials, we would be compelled to pass clear directions with regard to the inefficiency and disobedience on their part and the same being recorded in their Annual Confidential Reports which may effect the progress in their future careers.”

The ruling mentioned in the legal notice further adds, “This direction has been made because we have noticed that various orders/directions given by us have been taken lightly by the officers concerned. Of course, some of the officers/officials have complied with the directions in letter and spirit and they have to be commended. But, those who did not comply have to be punished.”

The notice adds that an earlier legal notice was served by J&K’s Regional Director pollution control board upon the Chief Executive Officer, Gulmarg Development Authority, dated 17.05.2023 bearing number PCC/ROK/LS/2022/859-60 wherein a report of inspection submitted by the DO, PCC, Baramulla indicated that the Solid Waste Treatment Plant established by the Gulmarg Development Authority(GDA) at Gulmarg, Baramulla was found defunct, and was neither functioning nor treatment of waste is done as per the norms and standards prescribed for the waste treatment plants under the Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2016.

“As such the said solid waste treatment plant is generating a substantial quantity of untreated waste and this waste is indiscriminately and unscientifically disposed of by the Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) in the Forest Area / Compartment No. 47-B, Special Forest Division, Tangmarg which causes nuisance and odor problem in the area and poses serious threat to the environment, forests and wildlife, causing high risk of Human-Wildlife Conflict and health of the human life in particular”, reads the notice.

Sorry State Of Affairs, Questions On Role Played By GDA

The notice stands that the official complaint received by their Green Office narrates a sorry state of affairs and poses serious questions on the role played by the Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) in the implementation of Solid Waste Management Bylaws adopted by GDA in 2018.

“Whereas, the Garbage Dumping Site is a grave threat to the tourists who visit Gulmarg as the unauthorized, unscientific dumping site emanates foul smell and attracts huge stray canine population, and wild animals including black bears and leopards causing serious inconvenience and posing danger to the lives of the tourists as well as the locals and also raises issues of Human-Wildlife Conflict”, states the notice.

The legal notice to GDA was supported with photographic evidence.

Stop Dumping Garbage In Forest Areas

In a report on 31 May 2023 by the divisional forest officer of the special forest division Tangmarg, received a report from the range officer Gulmarg and advised the GDA to “stop” the dumping of garbage in the forest areas and remove the existing garbage within weeks’ time, stating that if that does not happen their office will have no option but to take legal action under the relevant provisions of Indian Forest Act 1927 Amended under J&K Reorganization (Adaptation of Central law order 2020, and FCA 1980.

Make SWM Plant Functional At Earliest

As per the report it was also advised to GDA to make the Solid Waste Management Plant functional at the earliest and avoid dumping of garbage on the Solid Waste Management Pant site till it becomes fully functional.

As per the report, Block Forest Officer Tangmarg and his staff visited the Solid Waste Management Plant site and found that huge garbage was being dumped in the Forest area surrounding the site of the Solid Waste Management Plant.

Adverse Effect On Forest Crop

The Range Officer reported that the Solid Waste Management Plant is defunct for a long time due to which heaps of undisposed garbage was lying on the Solid Waste Management plant site and excess heaps of garbage were getting dumped by GDA in the “surrounding” forest area as well, saying that would adversely affect the forest crop of the reserved forest area.

“The Forest officials found MC Tractors/trollies/vehicles under your control dumping garbage in surrounding reserved forest area and has been stopped by the concerned Block Forest Officials with warning not to dump the garbage in the Forest area”, the letter states.

The letter addressed to GDA by the forest department’s report was too sent with the photographic evidence.

Collected Waste Thrown, Littered In Forest Areas

Similarly, on 2 June 2023, the Jammu and Kashmir government’s office of the Executive Engineer of municipal committee Tangmarg/Gulmarg in communication to the Chief Executive- Officer Gulmarg Development Authority called for their “Necessary Consideration” after they reported “many a time” that the SWM Plant outsourced by GDA is “nonfunctional” and the Collected Waste is being “thrown”, “littered” in forest area by the Concerned Contractor in a “blatant violation”.

According to the communication, the Sanitation Clearance and disposal Of Collected Waste in the Gulmarg area was the whole responsibility of the Gulmarg Development Authority, while the local municipal committee has helped the GDA in the Collection of Waste from different locations.

“Need to bring it to your good knowledge that this office has deployed Safari Mitras for collection of Waste and handing over to the contractor, duly authorized by your department for lifting and disposal Of waste at Gulmarg GDA Plant”, reads the letter.

Helplessness of Sanitation Staff

The communication states that, as was reported by the Sanitation staff of the municipal office at Gulmarg that they were unable to collect the littered waste from different sites, hotels, and shops because the SWM plant of GDA was nonfunctional, they stated that this non-collection of waste will lead to an unhealthy atmosphere of Gulmarg area.

Littered Waste & Maintenance Of Ecology

The letter in the last states that necessary immediate measures to get the operationalization of the SWM facility at Gulmarg and further asks that the littered waste is to be cleared from the forest area and must take the Concern of maintenance Of Ecology in the area.

Also, Read Part One of this report

Keep Reading

Follow Ground Report for Climate Change and Under-Reported issues in India. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterKoo AppInstagramWhatsapp and YouTube. Write us on [email protected]