Sai Nath Seva Mandal v The State of Uttarakhand and others, Writ Petition (PIL) No. 80 of2012, High Court of Uttarakhand (16 March 2017)

Waste Plastics and plastic waste

The High Court of Uttarakhand in India heard Sai Nath Seva Mandal v The State of
Uttarakhand and others
, Writ Petition (PIL) No. 80 of 2012, High Court of Uttarakhand (16
March 2017),  where the petitioner claimed that municipal waste from Kashipur city was directly
dumped into the Dhela river near the Sai Temple on Moradabad Road. In addition, petitioner
asserts this waste emits harmful gases, negatively affecting the health of nearby residents.
Petitioners claimed that despite multiple appeals, government agencies  failed to fulfill their
statutory duties to stop the dumping of this waste into the river. Para. 2. The Court recognized
that Indian Federal laws require waste generators to segregate and store their waste into three
categories: bio-degradable, non-biodegradable, and domestic hazardous wastes. Para. 67. These
segregated wastes should be handed over to authorized waste pickers or collectors as directed by
local authorities. Id. Despite these rules and clearly established policies, roles and
responsibilities,  no substantial action has been taken by state agencies, and garbage is
indiscriminately discarded in public places and is not segregated or stored according to the rules.
Para 70.
The Court held that street cleaning is a “fundamental service ensuring clean and hygienic
conditions” and proceeded to establish a cleaning schedule. Para 81. The Court further
referenced a Supreme Court decision (Dr. B.L. Wadehra v. Union of India & others) that
recognized that citizens have both a constitutional and legal right to reside in a clean city. Para. 83. It is the obligatory duty of the relevant authorities to gather and dispose of the city’s
garbage/waste. The lack of funds, insufficient or inefficient staff, or inadequate machinery
cannot be used as excuses for not fulfilling these statutory duties. Id. The Court further held that
“The essential objective of all provisions relating to waste disposal must be the protection of
human health and the environment against harmful effects caused by the collection, transport,
treatment, storage and tipping of waste.” Para. 84. The Court further underscored that the
cleanliness of cities and towns is a key indicator of civilization. Every citizen has both a
fundamental and human right to a clean and healthy environment, and a duty to maintain
cleanliness in their surroundings. Para. 85.
Among other decisions, the Court ordered decentralized administrations to develop Solid Waste
Management Plans in accordance with the State Policy and Solid Waste Management Strategy,
and submit them to the relevant state departments. Para 89 (N&O). Additionally, all local bodies,
including Village Panchayats, are required to ensure door-to-door collection of segregated solid
waste from all types of residences, commercial establishments, institutions, and other non-
residential institutions. Id. 
On damages, the Court held that all citizens have the right to sue (individually or collectively)
elected representatives and officials of Municipal Corporations, Municipalities, and other entities
for damages or compensation if these officials fail to fulfill their statutory duties as outlined in
different laws and regulations. Para. 88.