Delhi: Sweeping changes in city waste management laws

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Delhi: Sweeping changes in city waste management laws

New fines and fees have been set under the new waste management rules.

Delhi's "toothless tiger" municipalities now have new laws to deal with citizens who refuse to segregate their garbage or litter on the roads. The lieutenant governor (L-G) on Monday notified the expansive 'Solid Waste Management (SWM) by-laws of NCT of Delhi' which prescribes 10 different kind of fines for violations ranging from not separating dry and wet trash to open burning of garbage.

This ranges from Rs 200 to Rs 50,000 depending on whether the culprit is a residential household, resident welfare association (RWA), market association, office, hospital, factory, school, hotel or restaurant.

Monthly user charges for mandatory door-to-door collection of garbage by the civic bodies are also defined, ranging from Rs 50 for residential dwelling units up to 50 sqm, to Rs 5,000 for godowns, clubs, cinema halls, pubs and multiplexes.

It also defines penalties for companies which sell or market disposable products without a system of collecting back the packaging waste generated due to their production at Rs 1 lakh. And a fine of Rs 1 lakh will be slapped on industrial units which do not replace their current fuel - petrol, diesel, CNG or PNG - with refuse derived fuel (RDF).

RDF is produced by waste-to-energy plants from burning non-compostable trash like plastic at high temperatures but the companies running WTEs have been facing losses due to not being able to sell their RDF.

Under Rule 11 of the Centre's Solid Waste Management (SWM) Rules 2016, which came into force in April 2016 under then environment minister Prakash Javadekar, every state government and Union Territory has to frame its own policy.

Delhi's notification on Monday has come about pursuant to that rule after arguments in a related case in the Delhi High Court, under acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, concluded.

Counsel for the East Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Puja Kalra, said, "The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government was keen that slums may be exempted from the fines, but the Chief Justice advised them that all, including the economically disadvantaged, must be put in the ambit of the law."

Petitioner in the case, advocate Arpit Bhargava, said this is a big development not just for Delhi but for the entire country.

"The notification reminds us that we need to change our lifestyle and mindsets and take full responsibility for the garbage that we produce," he exclaimed.

"It was very difficult getting all the authorities in Delhi together for this - the state government, municipal corporations, DDA, etc. - but due to the persistent efforts of the judges, we were able to do this. Now it remains to be seen how the various agencies enforce this," he said.

Municipal officials said it will definitely give them "teeth" to punish people who are not complying with the already-in-place SWM Rules 2016 issued by the Centre.

"Hardly anybody segregates his or her trash if pecuniary penalties are not slapped," said Devender Kumar of DEMS (Department of Environment Management Services), north MCD.

Delhi generates about 14,100 metric tonne of waste daily, of which 9,600 MTD is pure garbage, 3,900 MTD is construction and demolition malba and 600 MTD is drain silt.