Observing that the ongoing lawyers strike was “to the benefit” of the municipal officials, as it gave them an excuse to delay filing of reports to the courts, the Delhi High Court directed the South municipal corporation to file a “comprehensive affidavit” regarding the cleaning of drains in the city by next week.
The court of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva expressed its displeasure after it was informed that the South corporation and the PWD had not completed the work of cleaning the “malba” and other blockages from drains in Lajpat Nagar despite court orders.
“Why has the comprehensive affidavit not been filed? These strikes go to the benefit of you people. Citizens will suffer,” the court said.
The court has been monitoring the issue of clogging of drains and waterlogging through a PIL since 2005. It had issued several directions over the years to resolve the issue.
“They (the corporation officials) have not done anything, are not doing anything, and will not do anything,” the court observed, after NGO Nyayabhoomi head B B Sharan told the court that no action had been taken to clean the drains in Lajpat Nagar.
Sharan also suggested that the court should consider “sending the officials to jail”. To this, the court commented, “Maybe we will”. The court had earlier asked Sharan to inspect the drains in Lajpat Nagar and file a report on the work done by the agencies. During the brief hearing on Wednesday, Sharan told the court that he had visited the area multiple times and had contacted the South corporation and PWD officials to inform them that the drains were still clogged with debris, but no action was taken.
In a related case — a plea filed by South Extension-II residents — the court again pulled up the South corporation official present in the court, noting that the monsoon would “start shortly” and the “same problem” of waterlogging and overflowing drains will continue.
The court will now take up both PILs on May 20. It has directed the municipal corporations to file a comprehensive reports by next week. Senior advocate Jayant Mehta, who had been appointed local commissioner to file a report on the state of drains in South Extension, also informed the court that his report will be filed by next week.