'horrible', says SC about 3,800 tonnes of solid waste going untreated in Delhi every day

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New Delhi, May 13 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Monday termed as "horrible" the situation where 3,800 tonnes of solid waste in Delhi and its surrounding areas go untreated every day, and observed it violated the fundamental right of citizens to live in a pollution-free environment.


Referring to data on generation of solid waste per day and the capacity to treat them in areas like Gurugram, Faridabad and Greater Noida, the top court observed that considering the development work which was taking place in Delhi and the surrounding areas, it was obvious that it would increase.

A bench of Justices A S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan said immediate measures should be undertaken to ensure that the quantity of untreated solid waste does not increase till proper facilities are put in place to treat them. The authorities will have to consider various methods to do that, including putting restraints on construction activity in these areas, it said.

It directed the secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs of the Government of India to convene a meeting of all authorities concerned to find a solution and place it before the court.


"In the event the authorities fail to come out with any concrete proposals, we will have to consider passing drastic order with a view to take care of the environment in the capital city of Delhi and surrounding areas," the bench said.

"We hope and trust that all the authorities will take the issue with great seriousness as prima facie impression which we gather is that none of the authorities have bothered to consider the drastic consequences of not having adequate capacity to deal with solid waste generated every day," it said.

The bench said a report shall be prepared by the secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and placed before the court by July 19.


The apex court noted it was an admitted position by all concerned that within the limits of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), every day 3,800 tonnes of solid waste was generated which cannot be treated as the existing plants do not have the capacity to treat them.

"This is a sorry state of affairs in the capital city of Delhi," it said.

Calling it a "very vital issue" for Delhi, the bench observed there should be no politics over it.


It noted that the MCD's counsel has apprised the court that it will be possible to treat such excess waste only by June 2027 when an additional facility will come into existence.

It said this means that for a period of more than three years from now, Delhi will have 3,800 tonnes of untreated solid waste accumulating in some place every day.

"As noted in the earlier order, this poses a great danger to the environment of the capital city," it said.


Referring to an affidavit filed by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affair, the bench said "something more shocking" has been brought on record.

It noted that as per the affidavit, 1,200 tonnes of solid waste was generated in Gurugram daily while the capacity of processing was only 150 tonnes per day.

The bench said as per data, 1,000 tonnes of solid waste was generated daily in Faridabad but the capacity of processing was only 240 tonnes a day.


During the hearing, the court said a permanent solution has to be found by the authorities "otherwise tell us which category of constructions should we stop in Delhi. We will pass that drastic order".

"Around 3,800 tonnes per day is untreated solid waste in the city of Delhi. Have you taken estimate how far will it increase?" it asked the counsel representing various authorities.

"We are worried about this. What the whole world will say. In the capital city of India, 3,800 tonnes of solid waste being untreated every day as of 2024. What will happen in 2025, what will happen in 2026?" it said.

"Everywhere the situation is horrible," the court said.

Towards the fag end of the hearing, the bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing before it in some other matter, that the Centre should also look into this issue.

"What kind of scenario is this and what signal are we giving to the entire world? We talk about development, we talk about environment. What signal we are giving," the bench said.

It also asked whether any authority has tried to prepare an estimate as to how much the quantity of untreated solid waste will increase in Delhi in the years to come.

"It is going to be an increase of three per cent per annum, which means 330 metric tonnes per day and the source for it is the 2041 draft Master Plan of Delhi," the counsel appearing for MCD said.

The bench has posted the matter for hearing on July 26.

While hearing the matter on April 22, the apex court had termed as "shocking" that 3,000 tonnes of the 11,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste generated in Delhi every day was not processed. PTI ABA ANB ABA SK SK