SUSPENDED: The Taleigao Panchayat has suspended construction licences, occupancy certificates and recommended the denial and cancellation of power connections to builders who have not implemented the directions of the High Court with respect to plastic waste
The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court in a Suo Moto Writ Petition on the deteriorating garbage situation, directed many village panchayats, including Taleigao, not to issue construction licenses to multidwelling projects of five residential units and above until the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) is satisfied that plastic waste is collected weekly from all wards of the village and loaded properly for onward disposal. The order was recently challenged by a builder before the High Court, but Justice Sonak declined to entertain their plea for revocation of the suspension, directing the builder to approach the director of panchayats. Non-compliance can result in contempt proceedings against the concerned Village Panchayat/s, hence all panchayats are taking this very seriously
If you are planning on buying a flat in Mandrem, Morjim, Taleigao, Benaulim, Varca, Colva, Majorda, Chicalim, Sancoale or Fatorpa, read carefully. The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court, in an order passed in August 2013, made it compulsory that certain waste management guidelines be complied with before granting construction licences or occupancy certificates.
Below is an extract of the relevant judgment by Justice A P Lavande and Justice U V Bakre.
- On 18th February, 2009, after perusing the affidavits of the coastal Village Panchayats which disclosed that most of them did not have sites for handling the disposal of garbage and taking note of the fact that it would take sometime for completing the procedure regarding acquisition of land, the Court, inter alia, directed the concerned Panchayats to take interim measures by making appropriate arrangements for composting of the biodegradable waste, and granted time of six weeks to locate the place for biodegradable waste and commence composting on that basis at the sites. All the concerned Panchayats were directed to collect plastic waste, store and bale at appropriate place or send the material for recycling.
- On 23rd June, 2009, finding that none of the Village Panchayats had complied within the order dated 18th February, 2009, the High Court directed each of the coastal Village Panchayats to deposit an amount of `25,000/- with the Court to show their bonafides. The said order was complied with by the coastal Village Panchayats.
- On 3rd August, 2009, the Court directed all the Village Panchayats which are respondents to undertake waste collection programme, extending to all wards of the village panchayats. Plastic waste collection must be done regularly, once in a week to help the citizens to develop habit of segregating waste and also to make it convenient to store the plastic waste. With the consent of the learned Counsel for the parties, Monday was fixed for such plastic waste collection by every village panchayat. The plastic so collected was to be collected by the plastic collector, nominated by the Director of Panchayats, twice in a month.
- Being totally unsatisfied with the inaction by the Municipal Councils/Corporation in setting up the landfill sites and taking note of the fact that most of the Councils had requested for extension of time for the same, this court on 25th November, 2009 directed category ‘A’ Municipal Councils to deposit a sum of
50,000/- and category ‘B’ Municipal Councils25,000/- each to prove their bona fides. Three months’ extension was granted to set up landfill sites. The Court observed that in case the said facilities were not set up at the end of three months and the Court was not satisfied with the bonafides or the steps taken by the Municipal Councils/Corporation, the amount deposited pursuant to the order of the Court would be forfeited in favour of the State Government. However, the Court clarified that the said order would not apply to Bicholim, Sanquelim and Canacona Municipal Councils and the Corporation of the City of Panaji. Pursuant to the said directions, the Municipal Councils have deposited the amount as directed.
- Thereafter, various Municipal Councils/Corporation filed applications for extension of time to construct landfill sites on various grounds. The Court granted time.
- Taking note of the slow pace adopted by the Village Panchayats in acquiring sites for the disposal of solid waste/garbage, as well as inadequate composting units, this Court by order dated 28th January, 2010, directed the coastal Village Panchayats not to issue occupancy certificates to commercial projects already constructed, having five family units or more, until such time they have their own disposal facilities for solid waste made available or the concerned Village Panchayat has a site for waste disposal as required under the Rules. By the very same order, the Court directed the Village Panchayats of Arambol, Mandrem, Paliem, Querim, Anjuna, Calangute, Betalbatim, Varca, Colva, Majorda, Cavelossim, Cansaulim, Chicalim, Chicolna-Bogmalo, Sancoale, Fatorpa and Naquerim-Betul to show cause why the amounts deposited by them should not be forfeited due to their failure to comply with the interim measures directed by the Court vide its orders dated 18th February, 2009 and 3rd August, 2009.
- The GSPCB submitted a comprehensive report in July, 2012, containing individual assessment of each of the Municipal Councils/Corporation/coastal Village Panchayats. The report also gives details of approximate quantity of waste generated and the methods adopted by the local authorities for its treatment and disposal. The report also gives data, per local body, on the population density, number of commercial establishments, hotels, restaurants, multi-dwelling units, etc. Perusal of the report discloses that all the Municipal Councils/Corporation in the State of Goa have waste disposal sites for treatment of garbage and all the Municipal Councils, except Mormugao Municipal Council, have sites for setting up landfills or landfills are already constructed.
- Considering the report submitted by the Board, this Court by order dated 11th August, 2010 directed that no licence/permission for new construction of buildings/structures shall be granted by certain village panchayats, without seeking prior permission of this Court and further directed that till further orders, the Village Panchayats of Poinguinim, Arambol, Morjim, Paliem, Candolim, Anjuna, Calangute, Fatorpa, Betul, Benaulim, and Varca shall not issue licence/ permission for construction of new buildings/structures, without seeking prior permission of this Court. In view of the compliance later on, by order dated 7th September, 2010, the Candolim Village Panchayat was deleted from the said list.
- Finding that there was prima facie breach of the order of this Court dated 9th July, 2008, this Court on 20th June, 2011, issued notices to the Municipal Councils/Corporation to show cause as to why action of contempt of the Court should not be initiated for breach of the order dated 9th July, 2008. At the instance of the Municipal Councils/Corporation, the said show cause notices were subsequently discharged since some of them had set up landfill sites and the rest were given additional time to set up and commission the landfill sites.
- In view of the order dated 11th August, 2010, passed by this Court restraining certain Village Panchayats from granting construction licences, several miscellaneous applications were filed by some individuals, as well as by builders seeking permission to construct their individual residences, building projects, hotels, commercials establishments, etc., as well as undertakings that they would set up composting units for disposal of biodegradable waste. For quite sometime the Court accepted such undertakings and directed the Goa State Pollution Control Board to examine the facilities proposed to be set up by each applicant and thereafter granted permission for construction licences to be considered by the Village Panchayats. Taking note of the fact that a large number of such applications were being filed in the Court and that the applications did not come from the Village Panchayat, on 27th February, 2012, this Court observed thus :
“ It is clarified that none of these applications shall be taken up nor any exemption from the earlier order would be granted unless the Pollution Control Board certifies that the municipal council has taken steps to comply with the MSW Rules, 2000 in case of municipal councils, and by the Panchayats under earlier directions of this Court.
Equally, as far as the Panchayat areas are concerned, if the panchayat has put up necessary facilities it is for them to get them certified through Pollution Control Board and unless they make a statement that they have so applied and the Board has inspected the facilities there is no question of considering any applications.”
- Thereafter, various miscellaneous civil applications have been filed by several persons for recall of the order dated 27th February, 2012 and for direction seeking the concerned village panchayats to consider their applications to undertake constructions. It was the contention of the learned Counsel for the said applicants that the applicants cannot be made to suffer on account of inaction/negligence on the part of the respective Village Panchayats. It was further their contention that they would even individually ensure the disposal of garbage by substantially complying with The MSW Rules, 2000. It was further their contention that their right to construct buildings, more particularly for residential purpose, cannot be defeated on account of inaction on the part of the respective Village Panchayats for not complying with the Rules and the orders passed by this Court. Learned Advocate General and learned Amicus Curiae submitted that those Village Panchayats which have consistently defaulted in not complying with the MSW Rules, 2000 on all parameters, must be restrained from granting any permission/licence for construction purpose and the rights of the individuals to undertake construction must yield to larger public interest. We have considered the rival submissions and we propose to give certain directions considering the earlier orders passed by this Court and the report submitted by the GSPCB.
- During the pendency of the writ petition, several affidavits have been filed on behalf of the respondents. The writ petition was taken up for final hearing on 10th April, 2013. In the course of hearing, learned Advocate General submitted that the Pollution Control Board would carry inspection of all 13 Municipal Councils, the Corporation of the City of Panaji and 26 coastal Village Panchayats to verify whether the interim directions issued by this Court had been complied with.
- We heard learned Advocate General, the learned Counsel for the respondents, and learned Amicus Curiae Mrs. Alvares, at length.
- Mr. A. N. S. Nadkarni, learned Advocate General appearing on behalf of respondents No. 1, 3 to 6 submitted that setting up of a Waste Management Plant and disposal of garbage is the responsibility of the local authorities viz., the Corporation, Municipalities and Panchayats. However, the authorities have shown a complete lackadaisical attitude and their inaction amounts to remiss in duties. He submitted that though disposal of garbage is the responsibility of the local authorities, considering the effect of pilage of garbage on tourism, health and sanitation, the State Government has decided to take following steps :
(1) Establishment of Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Management Facility at Baiguinim Village, the work of which has been entrusted to the Goa State Industrial Development Corporation. The said facility would consist of :
(i) Treatment of wet/bio-degradable/organic waste;
(ii) Recycling Centre for dry/recyclables or sorted waste;
(iii) Landfill for disposal of inert material not more than 10% of the total waste;
(iv) Other miscellaneous common facilities comprising of weighbridges, administration building, roads, laboratory, etc.
The technology and layout of the plant has been planned in such a way so as to treat the source segregated waste. Corporation of the City of Panaji will evolve a model Municipal Solid Waste facility, operational in all seasons which would not create any environmental issues and would help in creating a world-class infrastructure facility for the residents of the region.
The plant has been designed to comply with the MSW Rules 2000. Though, presently, the integrated Municipal Solid Waste Managing Facility is being set up for the Corporation of the City of Panaji, at Baiguinim, the same will be extended to other Municipalities as well. The plan is to have three such garbage disposal facilities for treatment of garbage all over Goa, inasmuch as it is not feasible to have the garbage disposal for other Municipalities. However, the garbage will be collected from a common collection centre which would be notified and then taken to the plant for disposal.
The Government has also set up Monitoring-cum-Working Committee for the solid waste management under the chairmanship of the Minister for Environment to tackle the garbage issue and at present, the said Committee ensures that the garbage is collected from the State Highways and shortly, the garbage collection would be extended to all the Districts, Municipal and Panchayat Roads in the State of Goa.
- Ms. Alvares, learned Amicus Curiae, submitted that appropriate proceedings be taken against the local bodies which consistently defaulted in complying with the directions given by this Court from time to time. In the course of hearing, learned Amicus Curiae has suggested certain directions which may be given to the Corporation/Municipal Councils/Village Panchayats, having regard to the reports submitted by the GSPCB, after carrying out the inspection thereof. Learned Counsel appearing for the respondents which have not complied with the directions issued by this Court from time to time, have sought further time to comply with the directions given by this Court. We do not deem it necessary to refer to the submissions made by each of the Counsel appearing for the respondents, more particularly having regard to the order that we propose to pass, disposing of the petition, and having regard to the fact that a sizable number of local authorities have defaulted in complying with the directions given by this Court, from time to time.
- Some of the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents which have not complied with the directions given by this Court and the MSW Rules 2000, have submitted that they would comply with the directions and the Rules within a reasonable time and till such time, no order be passed by this Court restraining them from granting construction licences.
- We have carefully considered the submissions made by learned Advocate General, learned Amicus Curiae and the learned Advocates appearing for the respondents. We had made it clear during the course of hearing of the petition that final order would be passed on the basis of the reports submitted by the GSPCB in July, 2012. Since the writ petition was heard for quite some time prior to July, 2012 and having regard to the time already taken during the arguments, it would not be possible to adjourn the matter by granting time to some of the respondents to comply with the directions given by this Court or to comply with the MSW Rules, 2000. We propose to dispose of the writ petition having regard to the orders passed by this Court from time to time and the orders passed by this Court in the disposed of writ petitions, dealing with the issues and in the light of the submissions made by all the learned Counsel appearing for the parties and the learned Amicus Curiae.
- In view of the above, the writ petition is disposed of by giving the following directions to the respondents:-
(I) DIRECTIONS TO THE CORPORATION/ MUNICIPAL COUNCILS:-
(1) By way of final opportunity, the Corporation of the City of Panaji and the Municipal Councils of Mapusa, Ponda, Curchorem, Margao, Pedne, Sanguem and Valpoi are granted time of one year to complete the construction of landfills for the burial of residual/inert waste collected by the Corporation/ Municipalities.
(2) In so far as Mormugao Municipal Council is concerned, a Committee consisting of the following members is constituted to identify suitable site for setting up of landfill :
(a) Director of Municipal Administration;
(b) Chief Conservator of Forests;
(c) Chief Town Planner;
(d) Chairman of GSPCB;
(e) Member Secretary of Mormugao Planning and Development Authority;
(f) Chief Officer of Mormugao Municipal Council.
The Committee shall identify the site within a period of two months from today and the State Government shall take appropriate steps to acquire the land suggested by the committee and hand over possession of the acquired land to the Mormugao Municipal Council within a period of six months from the date of submission of the report by the Committee.
(3) The Mormugao Municipal Council will construct the landfill within one year from the date of handing over possession of the land to it by the State Government.
(4) The Corporation of the City of Panaji/Municipal Councils to ensure that the plastic waste that accumulates after segregation of the waste, shall be baled and stored at the Councils’ waste disposal site or at any site that may be selected by the State Government for plastic waste collection, until the agency appointed for the purpose collects the same.
(5) The Director of Municipal Administration shall appoint M/s. Good Earth Management Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., which has been appointed by the Director of Panchayats for collection of plastic waste from the Village Panchayats or any other agency approved by the GSPCB to collect the baled plastic waste from all Municipal Councils/Corporation, every fortnight for safe and hygienic disposal.
(6) By way of last opportunity, time of three months is granted to the Municipal Councils of Mapusa, Ponda, Curchorem, Margao, Sanguem and Valpoi to set up adequate composting facilities for disposal of organic/biodegradable waste to the satisfaction of the GSPCB.
(7) The Board shall inspect the facilities within one month thereafter and file a report in this Court, within two weeks thereafter, stating as to whether these Municipal Councils have taken measures for disposal of organic/biodegradable waste in terms of order dated 9th July, 2008 passed by this Court. The Board shall also send a copy of its inspection report to the concerned District Magistrate who shall consider it for taking appropriate action in accordance with the law in case of non-compliance of the directions by any Municipal Council.
(II) DIRECTIONS TO VILLAGE PANCHAYATS
(1) The Village Panchayats shall ensure that the plastic waste that is collected every week from all wards of the Village Panchayats is baled properly and stored at an appropriate site, until it is collected by the agency appointed for the purpose. If the Government selects a site for storage of plastic waste, the Village Panchayats shall transport the plastic waste to this site in secure condition for baling.
(2) In case of non-compliance of direction No.(1), the Director of Panchayats shall report the same by filing appropriate application, so as to enable this Court to pass further orders, including initiation of contempt proceedings against the concerned Village Panchayat/s.
(3) By way of last opportunity, time of three months is granted to the Village Panchayats of Calangute, Candolim, Taleigao, Benaulim, Colva and Chicalim to make adequate composting facilities for disposal of organic/biodegradable waste to the satisfaction of the GSPCB.
(4) Within one month thereafter, the Board shall inspect the facilities and file report in this Court within a period of 15 days, stating therein as to whether these Village Panchayats are in full compliance with the order dated 18th February, 2009, passed by this Court regarding the steps to be taken for disposal of organic/biodegradable waste. The Board shall also send a copy of the report to the concerned District Magistrate who shall take appropriate action in accordance with law against the erring Village Panchayat/s.
(5) Considering the population and the fact that till date not many commercial activities are undertaken in the Village Panchayats of Querim-Tiracol, Paliem, Poinguinim, Loliem, Cola, Agonda, Naquerim, Fatorpa, and Quitol, they are exempted from setting up composting stations. However, the GSPCB shall carry out periodical inspections of these Village Panchayats and issue directions to them to set up composting stations if the Board is of the opinion that the composting stations are to be set up having regard to the mega housing projects and/or commercial establishments set up hereinafter in these villages.
(6)(a) The Village Panchayats of Mandrem, Morjim, Taleigao, Benaulim, Varca, Colva, Majorda, Chicalim, Sancoale and Fatorpa are directed not to issue construction licence/s to multi-dwelling projects of five residential units and above, until the GSPCB is satisfied that the plastic waste is collected weekly from all wards of the Village and baled properly for onwards disposal through the plastic waste collector. The Secretary of the Village Panchayats shall inform, in writing, the Board that the plastic waste is being collected weekly from all the wards of the village and is baled and if the Board is satisfied with the arrangement of the plastic waste disposal, it shall issue a certificate to the concerned Village Panchayat/s to that effect and it is only thereafter that the concerned Panchayat/s shall be entitled to issue construction licence/s to the multi-dwelling projects of 5 residential units and above.
(b) The GSPCB, as well as the aforementioned Village Panchayats shall maintain a separate record of the certificates issued by the Board to the concerned Village Panchayat/s.
(c) In the event any of the aforementioned Village Panchayat grants permission/ construction licence to the multi-dwelling project of five residential units and above, without a certificate of the Board, the same shall be construed as contempt of this Court and an appropriate action would be taken against the concerned Village Panchayat and/or its official.
(III) OTHER GENERAL DIRECTIONS:
(1) The State Government shall set up two or more sanitary landfills within a period of one year for accepting the residual/inert waste for Village Panchayats of North Goa and South Goa.
(2) The State Government shall consider setting up of a plastic waste disposal unit, having regard to the fact that on transportation of plastic waste out of Goa heavy expenditure has to be incurred.
(3) The Director of Panchayats shall appoint M/s Good Earth Management Enterprises Pvt Ltd, or any other agency selected by the State Government to collect the baled plastic waste from the Village Panchayats every fortnight or in case any site is allocated by the State Government for storing/baling of the plastic waste, the agency selected by the State Government, shall collect the waste from the said site every fortnight.
(4) The Agency selected for collecting plastic waste shall maintain record of collection of baled plastic waste from the Municipalities and the Village Panchayats.
(5) The record shall be made available to the GSPCB, on demand. The Board shall designate Officer/Officers to inspect the records preferably once in three months to ensure that all coastal Village Panchayats are adhering to the directions given by this Court. If the Board finds that the Municipality or the Panchayat is not complying with the directions issued by this Court, the Board shall file a report to this Court in order to enable this Court to pass appropriate orders.
(6) The GSPCB shall provide technical assistance and guidance regarding proper methods of disposal of biodegradable waste through composting, use of scientific methods of treating biodegradable waste to Village Panchayats and Municipal Councils, upon request being made in that regard.