Experimental smog tower: Supreme Court warns IIT-Bombay of contempt action

Experimental smog tower: Supreme Court warns IIT-Bombay of contempt action

They cannot withdraw from the Delhi project like this, it says

An indignant Supreme Court on Wednesday threatened contempt action against the Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay ) on learning that the premier institution has opted to pull out of a court-ordered project to install an experimental smog tower to curb air pollution in Delhi.

“Is this a child’s game? We will not tolerate non-sense. Talk to the IIT persons now!” Justice Arun Mishra, leading a three-judge Bench, addressed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

A week ago, the court had given the Centre seven days to enter into an MoU with the institution to install the tower.

“We will draw contempt against IIT Mumbai… They cannot withdraw from the project like this. How can they back out from the Central government after this court passed orders. We will not tolerate this nonsense,” Justice Mishra said on Wednesday.

Stern view

In the previous hearing, the Bench had taken a stern view against the Centre when it realised that its order of January 13 to install the tower at the busy Anand Vihar intersection has not been complied with even after seven months. The January 13 order directs the project to be completed in three months.

However, the government had in an affidavit blamed the IIT-B for not agreeing to “take the lead and responsibility” for the overall coordination of the ₹18.52-crore project and verification of the work to be carried out by Tata Projects Limited, which is the agency involved by institute for the construction, operation and maintenance of the tower.

On Wednesday, Justice Mishra gave Mr. Mehta first 15 minutes and then 30 minutes to bring the IIT-B authorities on board or face contempt.

Mr. Mehta tried to assuage the situation and urged the court to give him another day to talk to the institute.

Several concessions

The government and the CPCB have said “several concessions” were made for the IIT-B and the Tata Projects, including a hike in the project cost from ₹15.46 crore to ₹18.52 crore and removal of penalty clause in case of delay. They said the CPCB had agreed to the additional cost of operation and maintenance to the Tata Projects though the IIT-B proposal had “mentioned smooth operation of the facility for two years after commissioning and continuous monitoring of pollutants as one of the deliverables of the project”.

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