The Honourable Apex Court has left to the National Green Tribunal to tackle the disposal of the COVID-19 waste such as masks that are being disposed of as household waste. The Court refused to entertain the petition that sought the issuance of direction for proper disposal of the waste. The petition was filed by a law student.
The Bench Comprising of Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice B.R. Gavai heard the petition. The petitioner contended that the absence of awareness regarding disposal of face masks by public and any guideline/ advisory by the Health Ministry for the handling of such bio-hazardous waste. However, the contention raised by the government was that a circular dated 27.04.2020 has already been issued by the Ministry of Health which deals with the relief sought by the petitioner-in-person. In the end, the Apex Court left it to NGT to tackle the matter.
However, on April 24, the National Green Tribunal had ordered that a high-level task team comprising of officials from the Ministry of MoEF&CC, Health and Urban Development, Defence and Central Pollution Control Board supervise the handling and disposal of COVID-19 waste in accordance with the guidelines.
The Principal Bench of the NGT headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel heard a matter that it took suo moto cognizance of so as to ensure the protection of the environment and public health, in view of the potential of such infectious waste adversely affecting public health, concerned workers and professionals etc. The Court had directed the State Departments of Environment and Pollution Control Boards to ensure compliance of Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016 and furnish action taken report to CPCB and CPCB take further steps and furnish a consolidated report to this Tribunal of the steps taken and the ground status as on 31.5.2020.