Delhi HC orders surprise sewage checks in Najafgarh

Published: May 28, 2020, 5:44 pm IST

New Delhi: ┬áThe Delhi High Court has asked the committee (formed to keep a check on sewage management) to carry out surprise checks in South West Delhi’s Najafgarh area and ensure that the regulations regarding the disposal of the sewage are complied with in letter and spirit.

“The committee shall also carry out surprise inspections of the area in question and submit, in form of an affidavit, a Status Report of such inspections and steps taken by the Committee for ensuring that the Regulations are complied with in true letter and spirit,” said a single judge bench of the high court presided by Justice Navin Chawla.

The direction came while the court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging that waste collected by the government agencies from the septic tanks is not being treated and is directly being released into the Yamuna river.

During the course of the hearing, the Delhi Jal Board submitted that the onus to ensure compliance with the regulations is on the entire committee and cannot be put solely on the representative of the Delhi Jal Board in the said committee as has been sought to be done by the District Magistrate vide his letter dated 19.05.2020.

The letter written by the DM to the Superintending Engineer, South-West (Sewer Maintenance), Delhi Jal Board, called upon him to take action against the persons who are found violating the Delhi Water Board Septage Management Regulations, 2018.

Following the submissions, the court has asked the committee to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the issues raised and address the same. “Such meeting be held within a period of one week from today,” the court said.

The court also asked the Delhi Jal Board to consider if the licenses granted by it can specify the area of operation of each particular licensee and the fact of the appointment of a licensee be advertised in that particular area.

“This shall ensure that responsibility is easily put on a particular licensee in case a violation is found in a particular area and also the residents in that area are able to easily know which licensee they need to approach and hold responsible for their area,” the bench said.

The Delhi Jal Board in its reply before the high court stated that it has invited tenders for hiring 80 specially fabricated machines for collection, transportation and disposal of septic tank waste from unsewered/unauthorised colonies in an organised manner.

“However, though the work of the same was to be awarded in the month of March, 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the work could not be awarded,” the DJB said.

Taking note of the submissions, the court asked the Delhi Jal Board to finalise the tender for these machines quickly. “As the work involved is of public interest and in fact more needed during the period of COVID-19 pandemic, the respondent no. 2 is directed to finalise the said tender as expeditiously as possible,” the court ruled.

The court while asking the respondents to file a Status Report recording the compliance of its directions within a period of four weeks, posted the matter for hearing on June 29.

The plea, through advocate Abhimanyu Mahajan, said the waste collected by these agencies from the septic tanks is required to be treated in sewage treatment plants, which is not being done.

“The waste collected by these agencies from the septic tanks is required to be treated in sewage treatment plants. Unfortunately, the same is not being done. The waste without being treated in sewage treatment plants, is directly discharged or released either into Najafgarh drain or any other open drains in the locality, which is then ultimately released into Yamuna River,” the plea said.