Delhi Pollution on Rajpath
Delhi Pollution on Rajpath
Litigation News

Supreme Court hints at taking contempt action against IIT Bombay for backing out from court-ordered Smog Tower project

In December 2019, the Court had given the Centre and the Delhi government three months to set up a 'smog tower' pilot project at Connaught Place in New Delhi to address the menace of air pollution.

Debayan Roy

The Supreme Court today expressed its dissatisfaction at the fact that Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Bombay) had backed out from the smog tower project to battle the Delhi pollution crisis.

In December 2019, the Court had given the Centre and the Delhi government three months to set up a 'smog tower' pilot project at Connaught Place in New Delhi to address the menace of air pollution.

Smog towers are structures designed as large-scale air purifiers to reduce pollution particles from the atmosphere.

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 and that the government is now in talks with IIT Delhi and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

Justice Mishra, taking strong objection to this, said,

"How can they back out from a government project? I will draw contempt against them. What is this nonsense? I cannot tolerate this nonsense. We will punish IIT Bombay. How can they back out after 6 months?"

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta expressed his inability to call the IIT Bombay official immediately and sought a day's time. The Bench, however, questioned SG Mehta that "he himself should have objected to the letter by IIT Bombay."

IIT Bombay will now have to explain to the Court why it backed out from the project by tomorrow.

"We have to proceed against IIT Bombay and other authorities for delaying the order of court. We are not at all happy with state of affairs. As per SG's request, let the matter be listed tomorrow,"

Supreme Court

In December last year, the judges had also held a short discussion with an IIT Bombay Professor, who is part of the high-level committee examining various technologies, including smog guns, to combat air pollution.

Back then, Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni, representing the Centre, said those guns could be installed, especially at construction sites. When the IIT Professor submitted that the smog tower would only be feasible by August or September 2020, the Bench asked why it couldn't be done in three months.

On December 9, the Court partially lifted the ban on construction activities in the Delhi-NCR and allowed construction between 6 am and 6 pm, after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) informed the Court that the air quality index (AQI) was no longer in the 'severe' category.

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