The Meghalaya High Court has directed the State government to convene a meeting of both the Jowai Municipal Board and the headmen of the localities in Jowai town to resolve the issue related to garbage collection.
The order was after the affidavits filed by both the Jowai Municipal Board and by the Synjuk Ki Waheh Shnong Jowai indicated completely different claims regarding garbage collection in the town.
“The State should convene a meeting of both the relevant representatives of the Municipal Board and the headmen of the localities in Jowai town. The State, through the office of the Deputy Commissioner, should ensure that the schedule published by the Municipal Board on March 17, 2023 is being adhered to,” the division bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Wanlura Diengdoh said in its order after hearing a PIL filed by the Synjuk.
The court also directed that, “Any junior officer in the office of the Deputy Commissioner may make surprise visits and report to the Deputy Commissioner for the Deputy Commissioner to file a report when the matter appears next fortnight hence.”
“In the meantime, the Municipal Board will indicate a date towards the end of this week when all the headmen should convene and try to effectively resolve the impasse,” the bench added.
In its affidavit, the Jowai Municipal Board relied on an order published on March 17, 2023 indicating the days of the week, the type of waste, the vehicle number, the times at which it would be parked at different localities, the names of the drivers and the attendants who are assigned to the relevant trucks. The Municipal Board insisted that the schedule is being strictly adhered to.
In support of such contention, the Municipal Board showed a number of photographs claiming massive garbage collection from different areas of Jowai.
However, despite the Municipal Board’s affidavit, the General Secretary of Synjuk Ki Waheh Shnong Jowai has affirmed through an affidavit claiming that there is hardly any collection of garbage, not to mention the schedule referred to by the Municipal Board.
The report stated that in some of the areas, garbage has been collected only one or two days a month and in certain areas there is no collection of garbage at all.
Though the report revealed that the position may have somewhat improved in March, again, in April a couple of areas were apparently not visited at all by the relevant trucks.
Both the State and the Municipal Board dispute the purported record of collection of waste sought to be relied upon in the affidavit filed by the Shnong on May 12, 2023.
According to the State government and the Jowai Municipal Board, a WhatsApp group has been formed with the headmen of the various areas being a part of the group together with representatives of the Municipal Board, so that complaints could be lodged in case of any failure to adhere to the disclosed schedule.
The Municipal Board said that no complaints have been received pertaining to the schedule that was published on March 17. The State government also supported the stand taken by the Municipal Board.
In addition, the Municipal Board claimed that because of certain difficulties, not relating to the failure to adhere to the schedule published on March 17, 2023, the Municipal Board had called a meeting of all the headmen so that effective discussion could take place and the matter of removal of wet and dry waste in the town of Jowai could be dealt with.
The Municipal Board reported that only two of the headmen attended the meeting, despite all the others being informed about the meeting. The next hearing on the matter will be held on June 7.
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