The Punjab and Haryana High Court today put the UT Administration on notice on a petition claiming that people living in the vicinity of the Dadu Majra garbage dump were more prone to severe Covid problems.

The petitioner, Amit Sharma, contended that Dadu Majra and Dhanas had 107 per cent more cases of pneumonia in 2020 compared to all other colonies in Chandigarh. A study shared by the GMCH-32 in response to an RTI plea suggested that people with lung diseases and respiratory issues were more susceptible to severe Covid-19, he submitted.

Taking up the petition filed by Sharma in person, the Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli also fixed the case for further hearing on November 26.

Claiming “gross violation of the fundamental rights of over 50,000 citizens living in the dump’s vicinity”, Sharma sought issuance of directions to the Municipal Corporation and other state authorities to ensure an end to air pollution.

Directions were also sought to end unbearable stench and frequent fires that released toxins in the air. Sharma also called for directions to the corporation and other respondents to address health issues faced by people living in the dump’s vicinity.

Sharma further asked for inquiry/probe into the MC’s failure to follow the directions given by the NGT on waste management and processing, and also on flouting of environmental laws and outcome of “crores of taxpayers’ money spent on study tours for waste management”.

The wretched quality of air and life in the area was further aggravated by the frequent toxic fires in the “mountain of garbage” turning higher by the day. The MC was able to process a mere 13.36 per cent of the waste dumped here last year, and only 16.09 per cent from January to May in 2021.

Not only was the problem of unprocessed garbage threatening to swamp the Dadu Majra area, it was also leading to increased incidents of fire in the dump. The Medical Officer of Health (MOH) was neither able to prevent nor explain. The fire in March this year lasted a week and covered the entire city in a haze, hindering visibility and causing respiratory issues among people in the vicinity.

The Medical Officer of Health, MC, has wilfully failed to manage the waste, fires and the health of the people in the area…. Innumerable appeals by the beleaguered residents living in hellish conditions to the highest authorities, local and Central, RTI applications and personal meetings with the Administration have not yielded any positive result,” Sharma added.

Source: 22 July, 2021, The Tribune