NGT imposes Rs 100 crore fine on Kochi Corporation

Garbage Fire: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a penalty of Rs 100 crore as environment compensation against the Kochi Municipal Corporation. The case is said to be related to setting fire to a garbage dump site in Kochi.

The tribunal noted that according to a media report, the city of Kochi was shut down on March 2, 2023, due to a fire at the garbage dump site, leading to a crisis situation.

Hospitals were put on alert mode

An alert was issued to Kochi residents to stay indoors and hospitals were asked to prepare for emergency admissions of patients with respiratory distress to deal with the severe air pollution and its worrying public health consequences.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh ​​Kumar Goel said that Rs 100 crore be deposited with the Chief Secretary, Kerala, within a month for necessary remedial measures including dealing with public health issues of the victims.

What was the answer given by the Kerala government in the tribunal?

The tribunal noted that the State of Kerala’s reply has stated that the dump site is spread over 100 acres of land. Here the contract to process the waste has been given to a contractor, but only 33 per cent work has been completed. There have been several major and minor fires at the site before.

On behalf of the state government, it was said that the present incident took place on March 2, 2023 at 5:30 pm. The fire and rescue department took measures to control the fire. Helicopters were deployed to drop water on the piles of naval fire. The fire was brought under control by March 5, 2023.

State government said – health advisory was issued

On behalf of the state government, it was said that on March 4, 2023, a health advisory was issued to the general public to use masks and stay indoors. Vulnerable citizens, senior citizens, children below 12 years of age, sick persons and pregnant women were advised to take extra precautions.

The State Government stated that medical camps were organized. 120 oxygen beds were installed. 200 people had sought medical help. To control the fire, 30 fire brigade vehicles were deployed on the spot. Four helicopters along with 14 high capacity water pumps, 350 firemen and 150 support staff were at the site to bring the fire under control.

What did the tribunal say after the reply of the state government?

Following the reply given by the state government, the tribunal noted that it is clear that good governance in waste management has been neglected for a long time, causing harm to the environment and public health. The tribunal noted that no one has taken moral responsibility for such gross failure of governance and also the damage to public health.

The tribunal observed that such an attitude of the state authorities is a threat to the rule of law. We hope that the situation will be resolved at higher levels in the state such as the DGP and the Chief Secretary to uphold the mandate of the Constitution and environmental law, the NGT said.

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