CHENNAI : Greater Chennai Corporation has approached the State government to issue a government order allowing it to start charging user fees for municipal waste collection. This move comes even as the civic body is receiving feedback for the Draft Solid Waste Management Bye-Laws, 2016 it released in June. According to sources in the civic body, this draft, which was supposed to have been finalised by August has hit a roadblock and this move is a circumvention measure. It is learnt that the Chennai Corporation has asked the State government to pass the government order under section 353-A of Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919.
Section 353-A allows the State government to make rules instead of the corporation council. However, it allows the State to make rules only when the council has not made bye-laws or if the bye-laws are felt to be inadequate. But, in this case, the bye-laws have been drafted and are awaiting finalisation, so it is unclear whether the government can heed the Corporation’s requests to issue a government order.
Even the Solid Waste Management Rules of 2016, released by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which empower local bodies to collect user fees for solid waste management, asks waste generators to pay user fees specified in the bye-laws. “We are taking steps to ensure that the bye-law draft is finalised at the earliest,” said a senior corporation official, hinting it would take at least another three months. While the official did not deny the correspondence with the State government seeking a government order, he refused to comment on the development.
The corporation’s move to charge door-to-door waste collection had already come under flak from former municipal councillors who accused the corporation of functioning behind closed doors. “This latest development of trying to get a government order to immediately collect user fees even before the draft has been finalised shows the state the corporation has come to,” said M Subramaniam, a former Mayor of Chennai, alleging people are already burdened by the property tax increase announced by the civic body.