Ludhiana shanty fire: NGT issues notice to Punjab chief secretary
The NGT has directed the monitoring committee to furnish a factual report within 15 days about the shanty fire accident in Ludhiana
Taking suo motu cognizance of the shanty fire accident near a main garbage dump here that claimed the lives of seven family members, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a notice to the Punjab chief secretary, to explain the reason for continued failure to deal with the accumulated legacy waste at the dump site and why accountability of the state be not fixed in the incident.
Referring to media reports regarding the incident, chairperson of the tribunal Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, in the order dated April 21, has directed the monitoring committee of the NGT in the state to furnish a factual report within 15 days regarding the cause of the deaths, persons responsible and remedial action which is needed to be taken.
The tribunal stated that failure to clear the legacy waste is a continuing health hazard, apart from being a source of pollution. It asked why accountability of the state be not fixed under section 15 of the NGT act.
Following Wednesday’s tragic incident near the main garbage dump site of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (MC) on the Tajpur road, it was suspected that the fire broke due to a splinter of burning waste from the dump situated around 20 feet away from the shanty. Regular fire incidents were being reported at the dump site for atleast six days prior to the incident.
The tribunal stated that it appears to be the failure of state in remediating the garbage dump site as per the mandate under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and right of citizens to clean environment. This is despite the fact that the tribunal has passed orders for compliance of rules within the stipulated timelines on March 7, 2019 and January 10, 2020 in the presence of the chief secretary. Over 20 lakh tonnes of garbage is accumulated at the dump site.
Issuing notice to the chief secretary, NGT has asked for a comprehensive plan to handle such situations at all locations where legacy waste is lying unremediated with potential for such incidents and continuing damage to environment and public health. The authorities have been directed to submit the reply before the next hearing of the case scheduled on May 26.
The NGT also directed the monitoring committee to visit the site and interact with stakeholders. The committee will also be assisted by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and Deputy Commissioner.
The CPCB has also been directed to collect information about garbage dump sites from all states/UTs and issue statutory directions/guidelines for preventing such fire incidents and handling them effectively, if it takes place. The board has also been directed to specify serious consequences of delay in dealing with the issue.
Seven members of a family, hailing from Bihar, were charred to death after fire broke out in their shanty. They earned their livelihood from rag picking at the nearby main dump.