Clean, rejuvenate Wahumkhrah & Umshyrpi rivers: High Court

(L) Wahumkhrah river and (R) Umshyrpi river.

SHILLONG, Feb 16: The division bench of the High Court of Meghalaya has observed that immediate steps should be taken to clean and rejuvenate the Umshyrpi and Wahumkhrah rivers.
The Court made the observation on Wednesday while hearing a suo motu PIL in response to the efficient management of cleanliness & hygienic conditions in Shillong City.
The state government, the Shillong Municipal Board and the Defence respondents were represented by their respective counsels.
During the hearing, the civilian respondents referred to a report of a committee and the steps taken for undertaking awareness campaigns for inculcating a sense of hygiene among the residents of the city.
The Defence authorities claimed that they had gone beyond the Cantonment area to ensure that the city is otherwise kept clean.
According to the state government, large tracts of the city fall under the authority of the District Council and it was up to the District Council to ensure cleanliness and hygiene within its territory. Degradation of the environment is something that transcends territorial boundaries, the government mentioned.
The Court asked the state government to be more proactive and instructed the Defence authorities to come out with a strategy to undertake cleanliness and awareness campaigns/ drives all over the city since several parts, including the areas around Bara Bazar to Mawlai and some of the other commercial areas in the down market localities, need a lot more than what has been done.
According to the Court, appropriate vats or garbage bins should be installed at such places, whether in association with the District Council or at the initiative of the state government, adding that at the end of the day, particularly as tourism picks up in the state, there is a need to regulate and monitor the menace of tetra packs all over the place from Laitlum to Umiam and everywhere in between.
The division bench also observed that it would be ideal if government officials can meet senior Defence personnel under the aegis of the Shillong Municipality and chalk out an overall roadmap to ensure cleanliness and hygiene in and around Shillong and beyond.
The Court asked the amicus curiae appointed in the matter to coordinate with the respondents and other appropriate authorities and asked both the state and the amicus curiae to file individual reports in the next hearing, indicating how the matter has been carried forward.
The Assistant Solicitor General, appearing for the state government, pointed out that both in terms of Article 243ZC and the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, the District Councils are obliged to constitute town committees for the purpose of overseeing the activities in the urban areas, (Contd on P-4)
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(Contd from P-1) including safety, security, hygiene and the like.
To this the Court said: “If no town committee has been constituted by the relevant District Council for any part of Shillong or the nearby areas beyond the purview of the Shillong Municipal Board, immediate steps should be taken in such regard. Syiem of Mylliem is added as party to the present proceedings.”