The Supreme Court, on perusal of a report submitted by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), expressed concern over 3000 tonnes of unprocessed municipal solid waste every day in the Delhi-NCR.

The Court also criticized the municipal authorities i.e. Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC), New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and Cantonment Board(CB), Delhi for non-compliance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, therefore, directed DMC to take instructions and issued notice to the NDMC and CB, Delhi.

The Bench of Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhyyan observed “One of the shocking features of the report submitted by CAQM is the finding that though the average daily generation of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Delhi is around 11,000 tonnes, the capacity of the present waste processing plants is only to the extent of about 8,000 tonnes per day. Therefore, in the capital city, every day, 3,000 tonnes of MSW is generated which cannot be processed. Obviously, that is adding to the pollution. The Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 (the 2016 Rules) are in place for the last eight years. Even in the capital city, sadly, there is non-compliance with the 2016 Rules. For dealing with this important issue, notices will have to be issued to the concerned parties.”

Petitioner appeared in person while ASG Aishwarya Bhati and Senior Advocate S. Wasim A. Qadri appeared for the other parties.

The Writ Petition, filed by MC Mehta, sought directions to authorities to check worsening air pollution in Delhi and adjoining areas.

Amicus Curiae submitted a chart across the Bar showing a number of vacant posts in Statutory Pollution Control Boards of various States. In this regard, the Court directed, “We direct the aforesaid four States to respond immediately by filing an affidavit setting out the number of vacant posts, as of today, and the steps taken for filling in the vacant posts…We also direct the State of Punjab represented by its Advocate General to do the same thing.”

The Court further directed the Union and the State Governments to call a meeting for concerned authorities responsible for the implementation of the 2016 Rules. Furthermore, directed the Urban Development Department of the Government of India as well as the Delhi Government to convene a meeting and a concrete action plan shall be devised and placed before the Court on the next date of hearing.

The Court also directed, “Some authority must verify whether all construction sites involved in construction and demolition (C&D) activities have been registered on respective web portals; There are number of non-compliant C&D activities site. However, action of closure appears to have been initiated only against selected few. Dust pollution is created by C&D activities and therefore, stricter action is required against the non-compliant C&D sites; We need to examine in detail the issue regarding prevention and control of stubble burning/farm fires. Before we deal with that issue, we direct the Commission to place on record a copy of statutory directions dated 12th April, 2024 referred in paragraph 36 of the report; and The Commission shall also place on record the manner in which Enforcement Task Force is functioning and the details of the powers and duties of the Task Force.”

Accordingly, the matter is now listed on May, 13, 2024.

Cause Title: M.C. Mehta v. Union of India & Ors.


Amicus Curiae: Senior Advocates Harish Salve, Aparajita Singh, A.D.N. Rao, Advocates Siddhartha Chowdhury, Aditya Bharat Manubarwala and Shibani Ghosh.

Petitioner: Petioner-in-person

Parties: ASG Aishwarya Bhati, Senior Advocates S. Wasim A. Qadri, Sajan Poovayya, Archana Pathak Dave, AG Gurminder Singh, Sr. AAG Lokesh Sinhal, Sr. AAG Garima Prashad, AAG Shadan Farasat, AAG Shiv Mangal Sharma and various others.

Click here to read/download the Order