National Green Tribunal threatens contempt proceedings if pollution control panel fails to comply with orders in a week
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has pulled up the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) for failing to carry out inspections to ascertain whether government bodies have installed rainwater harvesting systems in their premises and said that the tribunal will initiate contempt proceedings if the order is not complied with.
The tribunal on October 25 had directed the environment and forest department of Delhi and DPCC to inspect 18 government bodies, educational and health institutes and to see whether they have rain water harvesting systems in place. The list of institutions include the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), IIT-Delhi, Batra hospital, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) among others.
The bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar on Monday observed that the inspection was not conducted. Counsel appearing for DPCC pleaded that since they do not have expertise in this field they were unable to execute the order of inspection. “We find this excuse baseless and misconceived. It was obligatory upon DPCC, which is a statutory expert body, to comply with this direction and, if felt necessary, at its own level could have taken assistance from other departments including Central Ground Water Authority and IIT-Delhi,” the bench said.
It also directed member secretary of DPCC to ensure the compliance of this order and also direct all the other authorities to provide full cooperation and assistance to DPCC.
“We make it clear that if by the next date of hearing the compliance is not reported to the tribunal, the tribunal shall be compelled to initiate proceedings for contempt against concerned Officers of these authorities,” the bench said and listed the matter for January 16.
The tribunal was hearing the case which started in April this year following a petition filed by Vikrant Kumar Tongad, an environmental activist who sought that government agencies install proper rainwater harvesting systems. In his petition, Tongad had said that by having proper rainwater harvesting system, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) can harvest up to 87.3 million litres water annually.
In the course of the hearing, NGT issued notices to various authorities and asked for inspection of 18 government and private bodies to see whether they have rainwater harvesting systems in place.
During the hearing on Monday, DMRC sought further time to file the affidavit that the tribunal had sought. The bench “by way of last opportunity” granted one week’s time to do so. “In the event of default, exemplary costs will be imposed upon the Corporation and the Officers responsible for such delay,” the bench said.
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