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Companies polluting Gulmarg must pay for waste-management: HC

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Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has called for putting in place a mechanism to make companies, whose products lead to pollution at the ski-resort of Gulmarg, contribute towards waste-management at the tourist spot.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to preserve the environment of Gulmarg, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rashid Ali Dar on Thursday directed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) Hanief Balki to identify and call upon the companies contributing towards pollution.
“The issue of solid waste generation and its management in the Gulmarg area, a mountainous region, is extremely critical. Both solid and liquid waste management creates huge problems,” the court said.
“We are informed by Mr Balki, Chief Executive Officer, GDA that a large percentage of the solid waste which is generated, is on account of the wrappers and containers of chips, biscuits, other snacks and soft drink cans which are manufactured by multinational companies,” it added.
The wrappers and containers are made from non-biodegradable material including metal, aluminum foil and plastic etc. and the other large component of solid waste is plastic bottles used to market water, soft drinks etc., it said.
With regards to the well-established principle of environmental jurisprudence, that is “the polluter pays” principle for the cost of environmental degradation, “we see no reason as to why the manufacturers of these items which are packed in polluting material do not contribute to the reduction of the solid wastes in the mountainous as well as the management of the solid waste which is generated,” the division bench said.
The court directed the CEO, GDA to identify and call upon the “polluting companies” and evaluate a mechanism by which they can contribute to waste management in Gulmarg.
“There is no reason as to why all these companies should not be called upon to utilise the statutory mandated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), allocations towards the pollution which is being generated in Kashmir because of their activity,” the bench said.
It asked Balki to join the Secretary of the District State Legal Services Authority in the conceptualisation of the programme as well as the implementation thereof.
The court also directed the Gulmarg Development Authority to submit the Disability Audit of the area before the next date of hearing on August 14. (PTI)

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