Shillong, April 22: The Shillong bench of Gauhati High Court has given another month’s time to the Meghalaya government to file an affidavit explaining the steps initiated to check air, water and waste pollution in the state.
On Friday, a division bench of Justice T. Vaiphei and Justice S.R. Sen passed an order by granting the government another four weeks to submit its affidavit.
The order came after state advocate-general K.S. Kynjing made a plea. The matter will again come up for hearing after a month beginning from Friday.
On March 29, a division bench of Justice Anima Hazarika and Justice S.C. Das had issued an order in writ petition (C) suo moto number 76, directing the chief secretary to file an affidavit within three weeks to explain the steps taken in monitoring, controlling and management of air, water and waste pollution in the state.
It was on the basis of a note by the registrar, Shillong bench, that the court took suo moto cognisance of the matter as reflected in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG).
The court, while passing the order, had expressed grave concern on the issues of pollution, especially with regard to the condition of the waterbodies in the state.
According to the report, the CAG had come down heavily on the inability of the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board for its inability to conduct regular monitoring of waterbodies.
Apart from unsatisfactory air quality, the report also divulged that water was found to be “unfit for drinking” in 28 of the 31 waterbodies in six districts of the state.
The CAG report, which was also tabled in the Assembly, had said: “The ambient air quality of the city, in particular, and the state, in general, is far from satisfactory mainly because of emission of air pollutant from automobiles.”
Lack of waste processing facilities in four municipal boards or scientific landfills in all the six municipal boards of the state resulted in open dumping of mixed waste that could lead to environmental pollution.
Further, in violation of the Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 139 of 178 health institutions in the state are functioning without authorisation from the board, the report pointed out.