Residents, officials lock horns at meeting on solid waste

The interactive meeting between officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), the public and representatives of NGOs on solid waste management on Friday turned chaotic. 

Organised by the MoEF, in association with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), on Friday, the meeting got cancelled even before it could be formally started.
 It was called to discuss Solid Waste Management Rules (SWMR)-2015 following High Court and Supreme Court directions to formulate a stringent SWMR. The stakeholders, industrialists, organisers and local residents soon got into a heated argument and staged protests, prompting the organisers to cancel the meeting. NGOs blamed officials, saying the meeting was organised to favour industries while the interests of the locals were compromised. 

Environment Support Gr­o­up member Leo F Saldanha said NGOs were not invited to the programme even though they were the ones who filed petitions in courts, though it is good that the SWMR-2000 is being amended. However, it is proper to hold meetings with stakeholders and partners instead of the affected people.

 Garbage is a people’s problem and it is surprising that people are barred from attending such meetings. Saldanha complained that industries were lobbying here. He questioned who had organised the meeting, the government or the CII, as the federation is a entity.  Bishwanath Sinha, Joint Secretary, MoEF, (Forest and Climate Change), was not given an opportunity to speak. Residents demanded that he either speak in Kannada or organisers hire a translator. 

Amid chaos, Sinha said the Centre had not yet finalised any rules. It is only in drafting stage. People have a lot of time to give opinions. First suggestions from partners and stakeholders will be taken, then from the people and the Palike. DH News Service

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