Due to rise in pollution levels in Delhi, the Supreme Court had asked the CPCB and the states of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to take a concrete decision on installation and operation of smog towers to control pollution. The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) had then proposed installation of smog towers as a pilot project in collaboration with IIT Bombay.
However, IIT Bombay was not willing to take up overall responsibility for the installation of the tower even though the project itself was conceptualised and developed by IIT in co-ordination with various other partners/agencies, the CPCB said in its affidavit.
As a result, a MoU has not been signed so far and ground work for installation of tower could not commence. The Supreme Court however ordered signing of MoU with IIT Bombay within seven days.
On Wednesday, July 29, the top Court warned of contempt proceedings against IIT Bombay for backing out of a proposal to construct a smog tower in Delhi in order to combat air pollution. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta informed the court that IIT Bombay had expressed unwillingness to take responsibility for the project. The hearing was headed by a three-judge bench, headed by justice Arun Mishra.
Mishra said, “How can they back out from a central government project after this court passed orders? Is it a child’s game? We will not tolerate this nonsense. We will draw contempt proceedings against them.”
On July 21, the court asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with IIT Bombay and Tata Projects Limited within seven days for installation of smog tower in Delhi. The bench said that if IIT Bombay had any issues, it should have informed earlier, in January and not after six months.
“We will punish IIT Bombay. How can they back out after six months?,” added Justice Mishra.
Mehta, however, told the court that the Centre was exploring new options with National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and IIT Delhi since IIT Bombay had backed out but the court found the suggestion unacceptable.
The bench, which also comprised justices Vineet Saran and MR Shah, insisted Mehta to talk to the IIT officials and get back to the court with instructions within 15 minutes. Mehta expressed his inability to obtain instructions at such a short notice and requested the court to grant a day’s time.
Source: Hindustan TimesNews, States