Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 6
In a major embarrassment for the Municipal Corporation (MC), the Punjab and Haryana High Court today applied brakes to its ambitious project of door-to-door garbage collection through motorised vehicles.
Taking up the matter, a Division Bench of the High Court stayed the operation and effect of the Solid Waste Management Bylaws, 2018, and a resolution dated December 13, 2019, passed by the MC to purchase garbage collection vehicles.
The orders by the Bench of Justice Jitendra Chauhan and Justice Vivek Puri will remain in operation at least till the next date of hearing.
The matter was brought to the notice of the Bench after a petition was filed against the UT and other respondents by Pappu Kumar and other petitioners through counsel APS Shergill and Harmanjit Singh Sethi.
One of the contentions before the Bench was that the 2018 bylaws and the resolution were contrary to the letter and spirit of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, which contemplated the need to empower the garbage collectors and help ensure their employment. Elaborating, Shergill and Sethi referred to the minutes of the MC special meeting held on December 13, 2019, to contend that a middleman had been introduced for the job of garbage collection through the impugned resolution.
They added that a clause in the guidelines issued by the ministry made it clear that it was the duty and responsibility of the local authorities to establish a system to recognise the organisation of waste pickers or informal waste collectors. It was also their responsibility to promote and establish a system for integration of these authorised waste picker and collector to facilitate their participation in solid waste management, including door-to-door collection of waste. A subclause even provided for formation of self-help groups.
Sethi and Shergill also submitted that approximately 2,300 workers had been earning their livelihood through garbage collection, while only around 800 workers were likely to be employed for the task.
“In the process of decision making, the viewpoint of the real stakeholders, the petitioners working as garbage collectors for the past so many years, has been ignored and they have been left to the mercy of an outsourced agency…,” they added.
The Bench was also informed that the resolution was in conflict with the state policy, which endeavoured to create new employment opportunities/jobs and removal of the middleman from all service sectors.
“The operation and effect of the Solid Waste Management Bylaws, 2018, and the resolution dated December 13, 2019, passed by the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, shall remain stayed till the next date of hearing,” the Bench added.
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