Telangana High Court raps GHMC, PCB over plastic

Seeks report on disposal of plastic wrappers.

Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court criticised the Pollution Control Board and the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) on Friday for allowing plastic to take over the city in the manner of the East India Company taking over the country.

The court pulled up the PCB and GHMC for being unaware of the manufacturers of long plastic covers which are being used to wrap Ganesha idols, and their lethargy in finding out how the idol-makers are getting the plastic sheets. The division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Annireddy Abhishek Reddy was dealing with a PIL filed by Y.V. Murali Krishna, complaining about the authorities allowing the indiscriminate use of plastic for wrapping idols of Ganesha.

The Chief Justice observed that due to the negligence of the PCB, local authorities and government, plastic had became a part of daily life in the same manner as the East Indian Company had entered the country.

“As in the movie ‘Shatranj Ke Khilari’ where the two nawabs abandon their duties due to their obsession with chess and the East India Company conquers their kingdoms, you — the PCB and GHMC have become mere spectators when plastic is dominating … you are the chess players,” Justice Chauhan said.

Earlier, Mr P. Shiva Kumar, counsel for the PCB, said that 13 polythene manufacturing units were operating at Katedan and Karwan and they had been issued notices to close down. He said that 27 polythene bags manufacturing units had been penalised `9 lakh and two units seized as they had violated the rules by producing bags thinner than 50 microns.

The High Court had sought information on Thursday, asking the PCB to submit a report about the number of cases booked, penalties imposed against persons who violated environmental laws and action taken against manufacturers and traders for violating norms related to the use of plastic.

The PCB and the GHMC were not able to answer the court’s query about the manufacturers of long polythene covers which are being used to wrap the idols. The Chief Justice observed that the GHMC and the PCB were playing a blame game, shifting the responsibility to one another, but the fact was that both entities had to crack the whip on violators.

He said that th Ganesha festival was an annual celebration and not something like Halley’s comet which comes once in 76 years. The officials had conveniently not taken any concrete step to curtail the use of plastic prior to the commencement of the festival.

“Plastic has already crept into the market. At this stage, we can only direct the GHMC and the Pollution Control Board to crack down on industries which manufacture such plastic and supply it to the idol-makers and ensure that the plastic sheets are disposed of so that the environment is protected from further damage,” the court said.

Directing the GHMC and the PCB to take concrete steps to crack down on the violators by implementing stringent action, the bench adjourned the case to September 7.

It court directed the GHMC commissioner and the PBC to file a report informing it of the steps taken to dispose of plastic wrappers collected from idol-makers and Ganesha mandapas.

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