Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel delivering the keynote address at the conference on Saturday.
National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairman Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on Saturday said that people in India were not obeying laws related to the environment because of the “temperament of non-cooperation” developed during the freedom movement.
He was delivering the keynote address at the first regional conference on environment under the theme ‘No Time Left, Act Now’, organised by the Punjab environment department, at Chandigarh.
Talking about solid waste management, Goel said, “For the last many years, we were fighting the freedom movement and our temperament was non-cooperation with the government...that atmosphere has to some extent grown. Because people were not willing to trust the government. They were exploiting the government. Now we have our own governments. But then to some extent the governments have not fully inspired people’s confidence. That trust deficit...needs to be bridged...You make laws, have made laws but to what extent is the compliance? Compliance is not taking place.”
Another strategy, Goel said, was market-driven outsourcing, which was successful in many other countries but was not in India because “either it was too costly or there were no service providers who were responsible enough or who are doing it satisfactorily”.
He said there was a third model suitable for the country which was about creating awareness, participation of public, government and all stakeholders. “Today’s conference is for this third model. Government will make law, people...religious organisations, charitable organisations will participate.”
Goel pointed out there were “mountains of garbage” in cities like Chandigarh, Amritsar, Varanasi, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore. “Two major issues country is facing are management of liquid and solid waste. There is hardly any city in India where there is no huge garbage dump. It may be Chandigarh, the most beautiful city of India, It may be Amritsar, the great religious city. There are 4,100 cities and more than 4,100 dump sites. It is a business opportunity or an employment opportunity, but as long as these dump sites are there, we cannot have a clean environment,” said Goel.
He appealed to the governments of Punjab and Haryana to remove garbage dump sites and restore the land. By disposing off the lands restored, he said, ten percent could be disposed off and revenue earned and 90 per cent land can be used as forest.
Goel also said, “Less than 50 per cent sewage is treated and the rest of the untreated sewage is going to water bodies. Why can’t we tackle sewage? All that is required is management. Cost can be recovered either from citizens or industries should contribute from CSR.”
Goel said enforcing laws was not intended to stop industrial activity. Industry, he said, would see a rise in case there is compliance.
He also said that paddy straw burning was “not a big problem”. “It is fear in people that if you don’t burn it (stubble), the land will not be ready. The land can be ploughed without burning it. We can use technology. We have farmers who are not burning and suffering no loss.”