The State Cabinet on Wednesday requested Governor Arif Mohammed Khan to promulgate an Ordinance for more aggressive and stricter enforcement of waste management laws.
The Kerala Panchayat Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 entails considerable fines, up to ₹10,000, for individuals and commercial establishments that fail to segregate and manage the waste they generate. It also raises the penalty for littering.
The Ordinance puts the onus on the organisers of public events with a participation of 100 or more persons to segregate waste at the source and hand it over to the municipal agency tasked to collect and scientifically dispose of the refuse.
The executive order places responsibility for waste management on the panchayat secretary. It necessitates disciplinary action against the secretary in the event of failure to prevent the accumulation of waste on public or private premises, including waterbodies.
The Ordinance mandates that residents, owners of hotels, restaurants, industries, hospitals and other commercial establishments sort the waste they generate according to the nature of the refuse and hand it over to the agency designated by the panchayat for collection and disposal.
The executive order also slaps a user fee on waste generators. It gives grama panchayats the freedom to fix the user fee for segregation, collection, transportation, storage, processing and disposal of waste. Failure to remit the payment will trigger prosecution and a higher fine.
Grama panchayats should ensure door-to-door collection of segregated waste, including those generated by high-rise buildings, shopping malls, marriage halls, households and non-residential premises. It bans the burning or unscientific disposal of trash through illegal means, such as dumping the refuse, including hotel and slaughter waste, in drains, sewage networks, canals and waterbodies.
The executive order tasks panchayats to install solid, liquor, sewage and faecal sludge treatment plants in their respective areas of jurisdiction. They could commandeer public land for the purpose.
The order also recommends tax exemptions and welfare schemes for residents near centralised waste treatment centres. More importantly, the law empowers individuals to report littering, garbage accumulation and other violations.
The executive order also frowns on diverting wastewater and sewage into public drains or using stormwater gutters to dispose of waste. It bans manure transport in vehicles or otherwise through public roads and places and empowered the police to crack down on such transgressions.
The law also aspires to generate public zeal against littering and other polluting waste disposal practices by conducting awareness programmes.
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