NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday vacated its order staying construction activities in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chandigarh for not framing a policy under the Solid Waste Management Rules.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta passed the order after the counsel appearing for Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chandigarh said they have framed the policy as per the rules.
While the counsel for Madhya Pradesh said they have deposited the cost of Rs three lakh slapped on them by the apex court, the lawyer representing Andhra Pradesh sought a waiver of the Rs five lakh cost imposed on them.
The lawyer for Andhra Pradesh said they had framed the policy and served its copy at the office of the Additional Solicitor General, who was representing the Centre, but due to “some mix up”, the cost was levied on the state.
The bench, however, reminded the counsel that no lawyer had appeared on behalf of Andhra Pradesh when the matter was heard on August 31 and the order passed.
“You cannot say that I will appear in the court when it is convenient for me,” the bench said while refusing to waive the cost of Rs five lakh imposed on Andhra Pradesh.
During the hearing, the bench asked Maharashtra about the constructions going on in Mumbai and sought to know the details of the builders involved in the process.
Advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar, appearing for Maharashtra, told the bench that there were 14,025 registered construction workers in Mumbai city, of whom 3,395 were the beneficiaries of the cess collected under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.
The bench questioned Maharashtra why only 3,395 out of the 14,025 workers were getting the benefit.
“How many registered contractors are there in Mumbai? The builders have to be registered. Which registered builders are doing constructions at present? You are not telling us the facts,” the bench told the counsel.
When Katneshwarkar said he did not have the figure of the registered builders, the bench observed “so Maharashtra government does not know about this. When it is about vacating the order (staying further constructions), you say these are poor workers. And when they are to be given the benefit, you say who are they (workers)”.
The bench asked Maharashtra to furnish within a week the details about the number of registered builders in Mumbai, those involved in construction activities at present and the locations where such constructions are going on.
At the fag end of hearing, counsel appearing for Odisha also sought vacation of the apex court’s order staying further construction in the state.
The bench asked him to file an application in this regard.
The court had earlier questioned Maharashtra about utilisation of cess collected under the 1996 building and construction workers law and asked whether the money was being used on workers’ welfare.
It had earlier taken strong note of non-implementation of solid waste management rules in the country and observed that “India will one day go down under the garbage”.
The apex court had on September 5 allowed the plea of Uttarakhand government seeking vacation of its order staying further construction activities there.
The top court had on August 31 castigated some states and union territories for their “pathetic” attitude in not framing a policy as per the 2016 Rules on the issue and had stayed construction activities till they brought it out.
It had slapped a cost of Rs three lakh each on Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and the union territory of Chandigarh. It had also imposed a cost of Rs five lakh on Andhra Pradesh for not filing an affidavit as per the court’s July 10 direction.
The issue of waste management had cropped up when the court was dealing with a tragic incident of 2015 in which it had taken cognisance of the death of a seven-year-old boy due to dengue in Delhi. The victim was allegedly denied treatment by five private hospitals here and his distraught parents had subsequently committed suicide.
Source: Press Trust of India