The National Green Tribunal on hearing an application challenging the construction of Solid Bio-Waste Management Plant at Himachal Pradesh issued directions to the Ministry of Environment & Forests to critically review the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 (MSW) and make them more pragmatic and workable. The application was filed by Gram Panchayat (Majthal) seeking prevention of setting up of the waste disposal plant at village on the ground and that the mandatory requirements stipulated in the MSW Rules have not been duly followed.
The Tribunal while referring to some of the requirements to be followed for setting up a landfill site under Schedule III of the MSW Rules, 2000 observed that the provisions of the statute are vague and ambiguous and leads to irresistible conclusions. It referred to clause 8 and clause 9 of Schedule III which provides specifications for land fill site which stipulates: “Clause 8: The landfill site shall be away from habitation clusters, forest areas, water bodies, monuments, National Parks, Wetlands and places of important cultural, historical or religious interest. Clause 9: A buffer zone of no-development shall be maintained around landfill site and shall be incorporated in the Town Planning Departments land use plans".
The Tribunal observed that: Similarly, the exact area of buffer zone to be maintained around the MSW site is also not specified in the rules. Bearing in mind the precautionary principles, the Tribunal directed the MoEF that keeping in view the requirement for protection of natural habitat, human settlement, water bodies and other sensitive areas etc. by specifying the minimum distance required to be maintained from the MSW Plant vis a vis those areas. It further directed that the said exercise be completed within a period of six months.