Noting that lack of waste management in Bihar can lead to an emergency-like situation, the NGT has directed the Bihar chief secretary to submit a quarterly report on implementation of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel ordered that at least three major cities and three major towns in the state and three panchayats in every district may be notified as model cities, towns or villages.
They will be made fully compliant within the next six months.
“The remaining cities, towns and village panchayats of the state may be made fully compliant in respect of environmental norms within one year. A quarterly report be furnished by the chief secretary, every three months. First such report shall be furnished by June 30,” the bench said.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the chief secretary to personally monitor the progress, at least once in a month, with all the district magistrates and it said that the officers concerned may be imparted requisite training.
“The district magistrates may monitor the status of compliance of environmental norms, at least once in two weeks. Performance audit of functioning of all regulatory bodies may be got conducted and remedial measures be taken, within six months,” it said.
The green panel noted that as per reports, around 40 per cent districts of Bihar have arsenic in its groundwater and arsenic contaminated aquifers in a 5 km wide study belt along the banks of river Ganga in Patna, Bhojpur, Vaishali and Bhagalpur districts of Bihar, are used for both drinking and irrigation purposes.
“Due to high levels of arsenic, the cases of cancer in Bihar are increasing day by day. The air quality index (AQI) of the city surged from 402 to 423, putting Patna as the third highest polluted city in the country,” the NGT said
“Muzaffarpur in terms of level of air pollution as the AQI of the north Bihar city was measured at 445.23. It was further reported that pollution level in Bihar is increasing by three per cent per year and blamed population and density as the major factor for the high pollution,” it said.
The tribunal also noted that according to a study, it was found out that more than 4,000 people die every year due to air pollution-related diseases in Bihar.
“Unabated illegal sand mining in river beds is now being cited as the major cause for the flood havoc, which claimed over 60 lives in east and west Champaran districts of north Bihar. Damage was done to embankments at Sikta, Mainatand and Gaunaha areas where illegal sand mining was rampant,” it said.
According to some experts, greatest contributor to air pollution in Gaya is suspended dust particles released by unregulated construction activities and illegal sand mining.
“There is lack of waste management in Bihar and it can lead to an emergency-like situation. No project has come up to harness methane gas from quarries. Data showed that the state government can produce 2MW of power from quarries that are filled with 750 tonnes of garbage every day and placed in fallow land,” it said.
The tribunal had earlier slammed authorities for failing to act on reducing solid waste and asked chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories to appear before it with status reports of their actions and immediate future plans.
It had asked all states to display on their websites of their pollution control boards the progress made in complying with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and the Bio-Medical Waste management Rules, 2016.