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NGT imposes Rs 900 crore fine on Delhi govt, says landfills pose threat

NGT imposes Rs 900 crore fine on Delhi govt, says landfills pose threat

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed an environmental compensation of ₹900 crore on the Delhi government for waste not disposed of in the city’s three landfills, amounting to 3 lakh metric tons.

The court said there is a “serious” breach of citizens’ rights and a “failure” of the public trust doctrine to protect the environment and public health by relevant authorities, including the Delhi government and the Delhi Municipal Corporation.

A bench headed by the president, Justice Adarsh ​​Kumar Goel, noted that about 80 per cent of the legacy waste in the three dumps of Ghazipur, Bhalswa and Okhla was not remediated and the amount of legacy waste in the three dumps was of 300 lakh metric tons. The caucus said that the scenario presented a bleak panorama of an environmental emergency in the national capital.

“Citizens cannot face an emergency situation due to lack of governance,” said the caucus.
There was a continual release of methane and other noxious gases along with groundwater contamination, the bench said, adding that even minimal safeguards against repeated fires were not adopted.

“There is no need to repeat the dangerous consequences of the accumulation of stored garbage that are mountains,” he said. The green court also said that the scarce and expensive public lands were occupied by garbage dumps.

“The area is 152 acres and its price, even at a conservative rate, is in excess of Rs 10,000 crore at the applicable circular rate and thus the urgency of recovering said public asset for beneficial public use,” he said. The NGT said there was a serious violation of citizens’ rights and a failure of the public trust doctrine to protect the environment.

In April, the NGT had already addressed the Ghazipur landfill fires in Delhi based on media reports and had said that the fires were a danger to public health and the environment.

“Landfills in Delhi and other cities are like ticking time bombs, because they constantly generate explosive gases such as methane, which can escape through vertical and lateral pathways, posing a constant threat of explosion,” the order had stated.

Last year, the court noted that all legacy waste dumps in India must be “remediated” to reduce the release of methane, bad odours and leachate. The waste at these sites must be collected, processed, and disposed of with the help of scientific methods.

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