The National Green Tribunal on Saturday slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the Kochi Municipal Corporation for the fire that has been raging at Brahmapuram waste treatment plant. The corporation has now said that it will move the court against this move.
The bench of the National Green Tribunal said that authorities in Kerala had rampantly violated the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and directions of the Supreme Court in this regard, according to Live Law.
The Kerala High Court had earlier taken serious note of the administration's failure at controlling the fire and formed a high-level committee that was asked to audit the environmental/ infrastructure facilities provided by the Kochi Municipal Corporation at the Brahmpauram site.
According to a report by LiveLaw, the bench noted that the Brahmapuram issue had been engaging the attention of the National Green Tribunal, which had imposed a heavy fine on the Kochi corporation for its lapses in 2018. In November 2018, the High Court had stayed the NGT's order.
"Between the date of passing of the order(stay order), till date, it cannot be stated with confidence that any of the measures expected from the Kochi Municipal Corporation by the National Green Tribunal have been carried out," the court commented.
On March 15, the panel formed by the court found that the facilities for waste management were inadequate. According to a report by the Hindustan Times, Kochi Mayor M Anil Kumar, on Saturday said that they will file an appeal in the court and also claimed that the civic body was only heard after imposing such a heavy penalty.
“This order will put big financial implications for the corporation. The NGT imposed its decision without hearing us or considering its implications. We will file an appeal after consulting legal experts,” he said adding it was a two-decade-long “systemic failure” and legacy waste was not a recent phenomenon, according to the Hindustan Times report.
Meanwhile, the Kerala government also decided to conduct a health survey in the areas around Brahmapuram to assess the health-related problems caused by the smoke pollution emanating from the smouldering waste plant there.
Health Minister Veena George said the survey will include people who are immediately affected and also those who live in the surrounding areas. "We have taken this decision in a high-level meeting today. Our community medicine experts will prepare a questionnaire. The district team will prioritise the places and our field staff will be trained to do the house-to-house survey, in order to analyse what is the real situation on the ground," George told reporters.
(With inputs from PTI)