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Delhi generates maximum plastic waste in India

The Pioneer, New Delhi, 4th April, 2013

With almost 689 tonnes of plastic waste generated in Delhi every day, the Capital has earned the dubious reputation of being the worst plastic polluting city in the country. However, a report prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) that indicates this fact showed that other metropolitans also fare no better.

Chennai ranks second in the list with a total plastic waste generation of 429 tonnes per day (TPD), followed by Kolkata (425 TPD), and Mumbai (421 TPD). In view of the alarming position contained in the report, the Supreme Court, examining the demand for ban on gutka products packed in plastic sachets, has asked the municipal authorities of Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata to suggest steps taken by them to contain the problem.

Based on the CPCB report that surveyed 60 cities from 2010-11, the bench of Justices GS Singhvi and Kurien Joseph also demanded response from municipal commissioners of Bangalore, Agra, Faridabad and Jaipur to get an overall picture from across the country. The responses to be filed within four weeks will be considered on May 3.

The Centre informed the Court that while CPCB monitors the status of pollution, it is the municipal authorities which have been entrusted the role for segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of plastic waste under the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2011.

Making out a case for dereliction of duty on part of municipal agencies, the bench said, “If they have not carried out the laws enacted by Government and the Constitutional level should we take it that there is failure of governance at the grass-root level.”

The Supreme Court also sought response from the Pollution Control Boards of all States demanding measures taken to contain the untreated plastic waste. As per the CPCB, out of the 5.6 million tons of plastic waste generated every year, 2.24 million ton remains uncollected. So frustrated was the Court with the performance of government at each level, it remarked, “Everything is left for the Courts to decide. Is it our duty to summon the municipalities?”

The question remained raging in the Court’s mind even on the issue of gutka ban. With 23 states having banned sale and manufacture of gutka, the judges wondered what took the Centre so long to act when the Government’s own report made an alarming claim that an estimated 85 lakh people will die of oral cancer due to gutka consumption every year.

But at the request of the Centre, the bench directed Health Secretaries of 23 states and five UTs where the ban is effective to report its implementation. Remaining states too were put to notice to explain steps taken to curb sale of gutka after a communication issued by Centre in May 2012 urged all states to take steps to enact the ban.