New Delhi, June 21

Ordering action against erring officials, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday slammed the national capital's municipal bodies over their failure to remove garbage from the city roads and dubbed their claims on trash removal as an "eyewash"
"This is callous disregard of the rights of the citizens," a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar said after watching a video footage of a television news, which was played in the court showing apathy of officials in garbage collection.

"Take action against officers responsible... and it can't be the safai karamcharis on the ground. Tell us what action you have taken against officers to prevent breeding of mosquitoes through timely collection of garbage," the bench said.

Pursuant to an earlier court direction to Municipal Commissioners of the civic bodies to be present in court, officers of the South and North Delhi Municipal Corporations were present.

The Commissioner of East Delhi MC was exempted from court appearance as he is abroad.

The court, which is looking into preventive steps needed against mosquito breeding before monsoon, also asked the national capital's three corporations to submit an action plan for prevention and control of vector-borne diseases.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for one of the Municipal Corporations, said there was a tussle among various agencies in Delhi, thereby affecting the collection of garbage.

"First, set your house in order. See if your staff are doing their job," the bench remarked, adding that the civic bodies had "pathetically failed in managing solid waste".

The court asked why penal action should not be taken against erring officers as they are allowing mosquitoes to breed, due to which people are dying.

"All you (corporations) need is to improve your garbage disposal and you don't even accept your failure. Is this the way 21st century's Delhi will look like (piling up of garbage on roads)? Is this the way sewage will be cleaned with bare hands in the capital," the bench questioned.

The video footage showed sanitation workers cleaning sewage and drains with bare hands without any equipment.

The court said Commissioners and senior officers don't move out of their offices for inspection. "Your officers are not doing their job. Garbage removal is the basic function (of civic bodies)," the bench remarked.

The bench also expressed surprise over the foreign visit of EDMC Commissioner.

"What an irony. He is attending solid waste management programme abroad. He has gone abroad to gain more knowledge and garbage has piled up here. Tell him to visit some garbage disposal sites here," the court said.

The bench posted the matter for June 27 and asked the three Municipal Commissioners to remain present in the court on that day.

Upset over wrong information submitted to it over garbage collection, the high court on May 31 appointed a television news channel's reporter as the Local Commissioner to inspect various areas in Delhi for piled-up garbage.

The high court took suo motu cognisance of ABP news channel's report on garbage clearance in areas under EDMC jurisdiction.

It had asked the channel to conduct random inspection on garbage removal and disposal in Delhi and submit a report.

The court is also hearing public interest litigations that the government and civic agencies had not taken preventive steps against vector-borne diseases like chikungunya and dengue.

The government and civic bodies, however, said they have taken all steps to prevent these diseases.

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