Deputy commissioner (DC) Mahavir Kaushik, who led the midnight crackdown on residents protesting against garbage dumping at Jhuriwala, was part of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) joint committee that had declared the site unfit for waste disposal.
The committee, comprising Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) regional officer, divisional forest officer and Panchkula DC, had been constituted on the directions of the NGT in 2021, following a petition related to unscientific dumping of waste at the site.
The committee, in its final submission before the NGT on Monday, stated: “The site is not suitable for the establishment of Municipal Solid Waste facility (MSWF).”
Stating that the area receives natural water channels from nearby undulating watershed, having rich forests of wildlife sanctuary, the committee had recommended, “It will be in the fitness of things to find a suitable site… in consonance with the latest order of the Supreme Court passed on June 3, 2022, regarding the minimum distance required from all protected areas and eco-sensitive zones for any such establishment.”
In a harshly worded observation, the committee further stated, “It is clear that violation of the environment laws has been committed by Panchkula municipal corporation and Kalka municipal council, causing a significant loss to the environment.”
“…To restore the damage caused to the environment at the site, action should be taken by the district administration, HSPCB and urban local bodies department to ensure no further dumping,” the joint-committee submitted, while recommending immediate stopping of further dumping at the site.
The report was signed by all officials of the committee, including the Panchkula DC.
Protesters, their tents removed to facilitate trucks into dumping site
However, the DC’s actions on Sunday night were in complete contradiction with the committee’s recommendations. The protesters were forcibly removed from the site, and their tents dismantled so as the clear the way for garbage trucks, which immediately started dumping waste at the site.
Advocate Prashant, a resident of Sector 25, said, “On one hand the DC is signing a report stating that waste dumping at the site is unscientific, on the other, he is using force to remove protesters and allowing entry of garbage trucks.”
The DC did not respond to repeated attempts by Hindustan Times to reach him via phone calls and messages.
Meanwhile, Haryana Vidhan Sabha speaker Gian Chand Gupta has called a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the matter regarding new site selection for garbage dumping.
Box: HSPCB had imposed fine on Panchkula MC for violations
The joint committee’s first meeting was held in May 2022, second meeting in August 2022 and third one, coordinated by HSPCB, on October 17. Its report mentioned that HSPCB had initiated prosecution against the Panchkula and Kalka MCs for violations at Jhuriwala. The state pollution board had imposed an environment compensation of ₹30 lakh per month on Panchkula MC for the period between July 10, 2021 and December 13, 2021 for discharging leachate into Ghaggar through the natural drain passing through the dumping site. The HSPCB also recommended imposition of another environment compensation on Kalka MC for the period from July 2021 to July 2022 for illegal and unscientific dumping of the municipal solid waste. It was also decided that the regional officer of HSPCB will file a criminal complaint before the Kurukshetra environment court for violation of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.