The Kerala High Court has formed a committee consisting of high-ranking officers to conduct audit of the environmental/ infrastructure facilities provided for by the Cochin Municipal Corporation at Brahmapuram plant.

“…we would like to depute a committee consisting of high-ranking officers assisted by their choice of technical staffs together with, for the present, the Secretary, District Legal Services Authority and file a report before this Court on the next date of hearing together with the photographs that the committee thinks are necessary for appreciating the wherewithal treatment options at the site.”, Justice SV Bhatti and Justice Basant Balaji ordered.

The said committee comprises of Chief Engineer, Local Self Government Department, Director, Solid Waste Management Swachhatha Mission, District Collector, Ernakulam, Joint Chief Environmental Engineer, Regional Office, Kerala State Pollution Control Board, Ernakulam, Secretary, Cochin Municipal Corporation and Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, Member-Convenor.

The Court in its Order dated March 10 directed the Committee to schedule a visit to the site within 24 hours. The Court also directed the Additional Chief Secretary and the Secretary to explore viable, alternative long-lasting solutions for the handle, handover, transport, and safe disposal of solid waste generated from the twin cities of Cochin and Ernakulam.

The Court was dealing with a suo motu writ petition in connection with the fire at the Brahmapuram waste plant burning at the site since March 2.

Advocate General K. Gopalakrishna Kurup appeared for the State and Standing Counsel K. Janardhana Shenoy appeared for Kochi Municipal Corporation. Standing Counsel T. Naveen appeared for State Pollution Control Board.

The Court observed that the scheduled quelling of flames at the site is overshooting the anticipation of the district administration and also the Cochin Municipal Corporation.

The Court noted that since the Cochin Municipal Corporation is under the statutory obligation to dispose of the solid waste at the designated and specified place on account of the continuing fire at the site, but not collecting the solid waste for the past one week.

“…the collection of solid waste has been stopped in the Cochin and Ernakulum cities. It is not in dispute that the continued containment of this waste at respective places is likely to result in yet another collateral, unanticipated problem in the cities. Therefore, firstly, we direct the Secretary, Cochin Municipal Corporation to resume the collection and operation of waste from these two cities from tomorrow onwards.”, the Court ordered.

The Court directed the Additional Chief Secretary, Local Administration to issue directions or clarifications in exercise of the powers conferred on the State Government by Section 5 of the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 to other Local bodies and the Treatment facilities nearby to Cochin Municipal Corporation as one-time reception and disposal of solid waste generated within the territorial limits of the Cochin and Ernakulam.

The Court has posted the matter to March 13.

The Court added that “The purpose of the said adjournment is to find out not only the stage of simmering fire at the site but also whether it has been fully brought under control or not. In the interregnum, any other mechanism that is available to prevent the dispersion of smoke in unexpected directions are explored and the impact from smoke to the extent possible by the use of technology is resorted to and controlled.”

Cause Title- Suo Motu v. State of Kerala & Ors.

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