New Delhi: The joint secretary (Swachh Bharat) of the ministry of housing and urban affairs has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 5,000 by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) after the officer didn’t show up and sent his subordinate to appear before it.

A bench headed by Justice Raghvendra Singh Rathore said, "There is no application whatsoever for seeking exemption of the appearance of the Joint Secretary.The minimum expectation from a responsible officer is that he files an application, supported by an affidavit, clearly giving out the reasons for not appearing before the tribunal so that appropriate order could be passed on it. It appears that the officer concerned deliberately sent his subordinate, Director to appear before the court today. Therefore, we are of the considered view that a cost of Rs 5,000 be awarded against the Joint Secretary.”

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The bench, which also comprised of expert member SS Garbyal, said that the amount be deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board.

The tribunal directed the joint secretary to be present on October 26 with a detailed affidavit with regard to the compliance of the orders passed by it.

It also ordered the official to file an affidavit regarding allotment of a chamber to the Chairman of the Apex Monitoring Committee, formed for management of solid waste, which should be made available to him as and when required for secretarial work and also to meet members of the Committee.

"We direct the Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to make appropriate arrangements to earmark a room for the purpose of functioning of the Committee. All secretarial services, including Ministerial staff shall be made available to the Chairman of the Committee," it said.

Warning that failure to ensure proper management of solid waste will have disastrous consequences, the tribunal has appointed three committees to monitor disposal of garbage in an eco-friendly manner across the country.

The municipal solid waste (MSW) management is one of the most serious challenges to environment protection and although the Solid Waste Management Rules have been framed in 2016, their implementation remains a problem, the tribunal had said, expressing its anguish over the issue.

The tribunal had formed three committees -- apex monitoring committee, regional monitoring committees and state-level committees -- to oversee the steps to be taken to give effect to directions of this tribunal, including proper implementation of the rules.

Observing that most of the states have no plans to deal with solid wastes in rural areas and hilly terrains effectively, the NGT had said that many rural centres are rapidly turning into urban conglomerates and if their solid wastes are not managed urgently we would be inviting several diseases with disastrous consequences.

The apex monitoring committee will be headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice D K Jain and also comprise chairman, Central Pollution Control Board, joint secretary of Ministry of the Environment and Forests and joint secretary and mission director of the Swachh Bharat Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

"The regional monitoring committees shall ensure effective implementation of the Rules, 2016. The regional monitoring committees shall also ensure that mixing of bio-medical waste with municipal solid waste does not take place and bio-medical waste and processed in accordance with the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016.

"The regional monitoring committees may meet preferably once in every week or longer intervals as per requirements. Outstation members may participate by video conferencing unless physical presence is required," it said.

There will also be state-level committees headed by secretary of the Urban Development Department with Secretary of the Environment Department as members, it had said.

"The representatives from the Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards would assist the state-level committees. The state-level committees may have interactions with local bodies preferably once in two weeks. The local bodies may furnish report to the state committees twice a month," the tribunal had said.

With inputs from PTI