The Supreme Court Wednesday warned of contempt action against IIT-Bombay after it backed out of the proposed smog tower pilot project in the capital.
“How can they back out from a government project? We will draw contempt against them. What is this nonsense?” a bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice Vineet Saran and Justice M R Shah remarked after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed it about IIT’s withdrawal.
“It was stated by the learned Solicitor General that they have been unable to enter into any agreement with IIT-B. IIT has now backed out. These are dilly-dallying tactics; a violation of the order passed by this court has already been committed… by IIT,” the court said in its order.
The Indian Express had reported on July 29 that the timeline for setting up two smog towers in Delhi — at Anand Vihar and Connaught Place — will have to be revised as IIT-Bombay, which was heading the pilot project, has “backed out”. Coming down heavily on the institute, the bench said, “We have to proceed against IIT-B as well as against persons concerned for violating this court’s order and backing out from the basis of the order…”
The court’s reference was to its January 13 direction to set up smog towers in the capital to combat increasing air pollution.
“It is not expected of such institutions to act in the manner projected in a matter relating to public interest. It is shocking that such conduct is projected by such a public functionary,” it said.
Stating that it is “not at all happy with the state of affairs”, the court directed that its order “be complied with forthwith, otherwise it would be taken seriously”. The bench asked Mehta to call the official concerned from IIT-B to explain its conduct. The SG sought a day’s time, following which the court posted the matter for Thursday.
Mehta also told the bench that authorities are in talks with IIT-Delhi and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) for the project.Meanwhile, the Union Environment Ministry and Central Pollution Control Board told the court in an affidavit that they had convened a meeting on July 27 with IIT-Delhi, NEERI and NBCC Ltd and they “have agreed to take up the project”. It said the further discussions were needed on available designs.
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