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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Stubble-burning to cleanliness, govt not doing enough, says High Court

SHILLONG:

The Meghalaya High Court on Wednesday expressed regret that in several key areas that any ordinary administration should be able to deal with, the Court is being called upon to nudge the state or the local administration in such regard.

“It has been repeated ad nauseam that the Court does not have the requisite expertise in many areas and it is not even the Court’s business to look into such aspects. However, when there appears to be complete administrative apathy in such aspects that affect public life, the Court must step in,” it observed.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W Diengdoh stated that several areas need to be addressed by the administration, particularly in the light of the fragile ecology of the state and the rich environment to the extent that it is still unspoiled.

It stated that there appears to be an inertia in planning that may result in the natural beauty that the State is blessed with to be lost for the sheer lack of a road-map.
The court pointed out that there appears to be considerable stubble-burning in the farms along the hills.

“The farmers ought to be made aware upon studies being conducted as to whether stubble-burning enriches the land or makes it more fertile for future crops to be planted. There is also the menace of the fallen leaves being gathered and burnt. Such material may be used as a part of organic compost to be used as manure instead of being burnt and the local residents being subjected to the toxic fumes as a result thereof,” the court observed.

The High Court stated that a report has been filed by the state indicating the measures that it has taken to ensure cleanliness in and around Shillong and, generally all over the hills in the state. The Cantonment Board has also filed a report.

“It may do well for the State to co-opt persons from the Cantonment Board for assisting the State in ensuring cleanliness,” the Court suggested.

The bench also observed, “What appears from the State’s report is that after several rounds of beverages some pious wishes were put down on paper, without any of the measures being actually implemented on the ground.”

Turning to the disposal of building debris, the court said that because of the topography, it is fashionable to tear down any building or any part thereof and dump the debris in such a manner that a substantial part of it rolls down the hills.

“This cannot be allowed to continue. Obviously, where building debris is to be generated, there must be a procedure for obtaining prior permission. When such permission is granted, the manner in which the debris would be disposed of, the period within which such disposal would be completed and the separation of the concrete material from other material should also be indicated and there should be adequate checks to ensure due compliance,” the court stated.

The court suggested that for a start, there have to be places which are earmarked and managed by the Shillong Municipal Board and other authorities responsible for granting permission for construction or renovation or the like where the debris can be deposited, whether or not upon some form of charge being imposed.

The matter is listed on April 27, 2022.

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