The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, to appear before court. The order came after the counsel for the ministry admitted that no action had been taken to look into allegations of toxic contaminants in the water at Tughlaqabad despite court orders.
“We have written to the pollution control board and the department but there has been no action,” counsel Jasmeet Singh said, after the court of Justice BD Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul asked him why no action had been taken on the complaint.
A resident of the Tughlaqabad area had filed a PIL earlier this year, alleging that an “artificial water body” had been created out of effluents being discharged in the area from “illegal factories”, which contained contaminated water that was affecting the people as well as the plant and animal life in the area.
The court in August had directed the ministry to take samples of the water and submit a report. On Wednesday, the counsel admitted that the report had not been filed as the samples had not been taken.
“It is very strange that the environment ministry cannot collect the samples and test them. Who is the officer responsible for this work?” asked the court. The court also dismissed the argument by the Delhi Development Authority and the ministry’s counsels that unauthorised construction in the area was responsible for the pollution.
“The directions given to respondent no. 1 (ministry) with respect to drawing samples of the water alleged to be contaminated and give a report have not been complied with. The counsel for the ministry says that numerous letters have been sent but no action has been taken. We are not going to take this inaction lightly,” the court said.
The court then issued directions to the ministry to get the samples collected and tested by October 15, failing which, its secretary has been directed to be present in court.
The directions have been issued in plea filed by Tughlaqabad resident Manoj Kumar who had sought directions to provide clean drinking water to animals and birds in the area, alleging that the flora and fauna of the area, which also includes part of the protected forest and sanctuary areas, were being killed due to the contaminated water.