Meghalaya High Court: The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ. and W. Diengdoh, J. took up a petition on a matter pertaining to the piling-up of garbage in the town of Jowai. The petition was filed on 12-04-2022 complaining of household waste and general garbage not being collected in the Jowai urban township area from 04-02-2022. The Court had served the respondents served immediately and informed that the matter will appear a week hence for a preliminary hearing and appropriate directions on 20-04-2022.

The Board had filed an application wherein it was indicated that in March, 2021, an NGO by the name of Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) of Moopyut village along with six other villages – Pynthor Langtein, Umsalang, Shhen Pyrsit, Moopyut Madan Tyrpait, Moosakhia and Sohmynting – attempted to close the dumping site at Mynkjai. Though an agreement was entered into for temporary dumping at the site for three months, since no alternative dumping site had been identified by the task force constituted by the Urban Affairs Department of the State along with the Jowai Municipal Board, the collection of garbage has altogether come to a standstill.

The Court was disturbed to notice that in such a serious menace of garbage piling up in one of the major towns in the State, something that may lead to disease and disaster, and the State administration seeks only to play the fiddle. The State of Meghalaya, as in most other cases, washes its hands off and says that it had no role to play in civic affairs.

On 20-04-2022 with the hope that the matter receives the urgent attention at the highest quarters the Khasi Students’ Union of Moopyut village along with the headmen of Moopyut village and the six other villages above named were added as parties. The Court directed the State administration and the District Council to meet at the highest level in course of the day to try and suggest an immediate remedy so that the garbage can be collected and Jowai town cleaned, if only to ensure that major diseases do not break out, particularly water-borne diseases since it had been raining continuously for the past several days. Matter was listed on 22-04-2022

On 22-04-2022, the State and the local bodies informed the Court  that a temporary site for dumping has been identified and the lifting of the garbage in Jowai town has commenced. According to the local municipal board, the main streets have been cleared and it is expected that the garbage from the market places will be cleared in the course of the weekend.

The Court was convinced that no immediate order was required after all the concerned, including the State, appeared to have looked into the matter and meetings have been held to identify an alternative dumping site.

The matter was further listed to 15-05-2022 directing the State Government to ensure that the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 notified by the Central Government in exercise of its authority under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 was implemented as expeditiously as possible by creating bodies and infrastructure in terms therewith.[Synjuk Ki Waheh Shnong Jowai v. State of Meghalaya, PIL No. 6 of 2022, order dated 22-04-2022]

For the Petitioners : Mr L. Khyriem

For the Respondents: Mr B. Bhattacharjee, AAG with Ms R. Colney, GA, Mr P. Nongbri, Mr Philemon Nongbri, Mr P. Yobin, Mr R. Majaw

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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