After Delhi Jal Board (DJB) CEO Keshav Chandra Monday told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that work on Phase I of the Yamuna revitalisation project had been delayed due to an Assembly committee enquiry against him, both the DJB and the Delhi government came under fire from the Tribunal. The bench, headed by Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, asked the government and the DJB to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for non-compliance of its orders.
In a chamber meeting held at the NGT premises, Chandra told the tribunal that the AAP government had initiated an enquiry against him for alleged financial irregularities over setting up of sewage treatment plants. Taking exception to this submission, the NGT asked why he did not approach it and instead stopped work.
Sources said the probe into alleged irregularities, amounting to Rs 776.7 crore, is being conducted by the Delhi Assembly’s Estimates Committee. The irregularities pertain to the setting up 14 sewage treatment plants (STPs) — part of three projects set up to clean the Najafgarh and supplementary drains under Phase-1 of the ‘Maily se nirmal Yamuna revitalisation plan 2017’.
The committee is looking into a report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) which had maintained that the projects were not necessary. While the DJB had maintained that the CPCB report “was not signed” and denied the allegations, the CPCB has since given an estimate of Rs 1.19 crore to conduct a second study and ascertain if the projects are required, a source said, adding “that the estimate has been forwarded to the DJB”.
The bench then pulled up the authorities, saying apart from shifting blame, the stakeholders — including the government — had no reasons to offer in support of their “inaction and non-cooperation” in completing the project. It also asked them to explain why the amount earmarked by the government and the DJB for Yamuna rejuvenation should not be attached for violating the NGT order.
The green panel said it was a matter of great regret that its judgment passed on January 13, 2015, on cleaning the river has not been complied with by the various stakeholders till date. It directed the DJB to file a detailed reply in 10 days and posted the matter for further hearing on November 6.
Advocate Kush Sharma, appearing for the DDA, said they have complied with the NGT orders and were releasing the money as demanded by the DJB. The meeting was attended by the chief secretary of Delhi government, DDA vice-chairman Udai Pratap Singh, DJB CEO, representative of the project proponent Larsen & Toubro and officials from National Mission for Clean Ganga.