Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily upon IIT-Bombay and warned of initiating contempt proceedings against the premier Institute if it backs out from a project to set up “smog tower” in New Delhi. Expressing surprise at the IIT Bombay's decision, the three-judge bench led Justice Arun Mishra said "How can they back out from a government project? I will draw up contempt case against them. I cannot tolerate this nonsense. We will punish IIT Bombay. How can they back out after 6 months?

During the hearing of a batch of anti-pollution matters today, Solcitor General Tushar Mehta informed the three-judge Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and MR Shah that IIT Bombay has backed out from the project. He said the government is in talks with IIT Delhi and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

On July 21, the bench headed by Justice Mishra took serious note of the fact that MoU with IIT Mumbai for installation of smog tower has not been executed yet despite its orders passed in January this year.

In a joint affidavit filed in the top court, the MoEF&CC and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) gave details of the current status of work with regard to installation of smog tower.The affidavit said that the Centre is taking “all possible steps at the highest level to mitigate and contain the present surge in air pollution”.

It alleged that MoU has not been finalised as IIT Mumbai has not agreed to take responsibility of overall coordination of the project and verification of works to be carried out by Tata Projects Limited, which has been involved by IIT Mumbai for construction, operation and maintenance of smog tower.

It said that in January this year, the IIT Mumbai had submitted its proposal titled ‘pilot study for assessment of reducing air pollution in urban area by using medium scale cleaning system’.

The affidavit said officials from IIT Mumbai and Tata Projects Ltd had conducted a site visit on February 11.

It said after the site visit, a draft MoU was prepared by CPCB and it was also discussed with IIT Mumbai along with the financials for the project.

The affidavit further alleged that meetings were convened with IIT Mumbai and Tata Projects Ltd in months of April, May and July “to resolve the issues but the MoU has not been finalized as IIT Mumbai has not agreed to take the responsibility of the overall coordination of the project and verification of the works to be carried out by Tata Projects Limited”.

It claimed that in order to get the project executed and to comply with the apex court’s direction, the ministry and the CPCB have “showed special consideration” and made several concessions in the interest of the project.

(with PTI inputs)

Posted By: Rakesh Kumar Jha