Brahmapuram Fire- Kerala HC Seeks Report On Measures For Solid Waste Management, Says Right To Pollution-Free Environment Is Basic Right
The Kerala High Court has directed the Secretary, Cochin Municipal Corporation to place before the Court orders on the implementation of immediate, shorter and long term measures at the Brahmapuram plant and also on improving the source collection, handling on collection, disposal of the solid waste management within its jurisdiction.
The Court has sought the report in connection with the fire at the Brahmapuram waste plant.
The Division Bench of Justice S.V.Bhatti and Justice Basant Balaji ordered thus-
“We further direct the Secretary, Cochin Municipal Corporation to place before the Court orders on the implementation of immediate, shorter and long term measures at the Brahmapuram plant and also on improving the source collection, handling on collection, disposal of the solid waste management within the jurisdiction of Secretary, Cochin Municipal Corporation.”
The Court observed that it shall incorporate those proposals in consultation with the Additional Chief Secretary, District Collector and the Pollution Control Board in its Order on March 10.
The Secretary, Cochin Municipal Corporation informed that one of the reasons stated for not containing the fire is staff at the site could not immediately use water hydrants and contain the fire. The Secretary expressed the difficulty, the Corporation has in this behalf, i.e. the facility is being run without a dedicated power supply line to this plant.
“The Deputy Chief Engineer, Kerala State Electricity Board, Ernakulam is directed by this Court to provide a temporary connection to the facility operated by the Cochin Municipal Corporation within four hours from 4 p.m. today itself.”, the Court directed in its Order dated March 8, 2023.
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.
At the outset the Court had noted “…The present suo motu initiative of the Court is not treated as publicity interest litigation or prosecution interest litigation initiated by the High Court. Being a constitutional Court, this Court is the custodian and the guardian of the rights of the citizens under the Constitution and also protects the rights assured to the citizens under the Environmental Protection Act read with rules and Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. The right to clean air, water and pollution-free environment are the basic human rights.”
The Court further added that “The incidents happening in the immediate past, this Court has noticed these rights of the citizens, particularly of the City of Ernakulam are at stake. Therefore, this suo motu Writ Petition addresses these problems.”
The officers present in the Court in unison stated that there is an obligation on the part of the State Government, Local Bodies, District Administration and also the statutory corporation, i.e. Pollution Control Board, to take efficacious measures for addressing the problem
“Without having a categorical statement from these officers by looking at the formative proposals taken forward, we do not want to incorporate the proposals in the latest order. As has been suggested by the learned Advocate General, we grant time till the day after tomorrow to the Additional Chief Secretary to place on record all the points which are finalised by the High Level Conference with definite time lines for performance by the Local Bodies.”, the Court directed.
The Court has posted the matter to March 10 for further hearing.
Cause title- Suo Motu v. State of Kerala & Ors.