Not tolerate a delay of smog towers: SC seeks reply by Monday

Justice Mishra queried Mehta, after the court examined the proposal "areas were identified".

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will not tolerate any laxity on the issue of smog tower project in the national capital and directed the Centre to file a detailed affidavit citing reasons for the delay in the project.

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari shot a volley of questions at Centre’s counsel, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, in connection with the delay in the implementation of the project after days of work and school were affected here due to bad air quality last year.

The top court in December 2019 had given three months to the Centre and the Delhi government to set up a smog tower pilot project in Connaught Place in New Delhi to combat the menace of air pollution in the national capital. Smog towers act as large-scale air purifiers.

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Mehta informed the apex court that after hearing on Wednesday, persons concerned at IIT Bombay, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and other technical consultants were contacted.

The bench asked Mehta to bring it on record.

Justice Mishra queried Mehta after the court examined the proposal “areas were identified”.

“Can you go back from that position?” To which Mehta replied this query was meant for IIT Bombay. Justice Mishra again queried that when the court had asked for completion of the project within three months, then why the order was not complied with.

Mehta replied that the drawing of the tower will be in two months, and the technical part will take three months and the overall process of setting it up will take around 10 months.

Mehta informed the bench that technology has to come from Minnesota, US. The bench replied, “Why are you taking shelter of technology?”

The top court asked the Centre to file a detailed affidavit by Monday. “We will not postpone after that anymore. You have to answer all our queries. We will not tolerate this laxity!”

said the bench.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday had expressed its discontent after learning that the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT Bombay) has backed out from the smog tower project to battle air pollution in Delhi.

The apex court also hinted at taking contempt action against the premier institution.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and M.R. Shah said: “This is dilly-dallying tactics and violation of the order passed by this court which has already been committed at least by the IIT.

“We have to proceed against the IIT-Bombay as well as against the concerned persons for violating the order of this court and backing out from the basis of the order which was passed by this court.” The top court then listed the matter for further hearing on Thursday.

Mehta submitted that the government was continuously in touch with IIT-Bombay and design etc was also finalised. At this, Justice Mishra asked: “Why are you saving IIT-Bombay secretary? Why didn’t you reply to the letter by IIT-Bombay that they cannot do this and back out?”

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