The ‘Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna’ Revitalisation Project for cleaning and rejuvenating the river, has crossed its deadline and is facing inordinate delay due to non-cooperation of authorities and lack of executive will, the National Green Tribunal said today.
Expressing displeasure over the slow pace of the Yamuna rejuvenation programme, the NGT said the ground reality shows that the project, which was to be completed by March 31 this year, was far away from the target though some progress has been made in the first phase of its judgement.
The tribunal in January 2015 had delivered a comprehensive judgement dealing with all aspects of preventing and controlling pollution in Yamuna.
The entire project, christened as ‘Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna’ Revitalization Project, contemplated under the judgment of the tribunal was to be completed by March 31. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar today noted that out of 14 sewage treatment plants (STPs) to be constructed to clean waste water reaching Yamuna through drains, the work on five have started, while at two sites, the survey of land has begun but the actual work is yet to start as the paperwork for handing over the land was still underway.
“It is quite evident that the reason for the delay is non-cooperation and lack of executive will to complete the project. The local authorities, Delhi government, National Mission for Clean Ganga have not worked in tandem.
“First, attempts were made to alter the findings and directions recorded in the judgement and later it was improper interpretation and inaction that resulted in inordinate delay in compliance of the directions of the tribunal.
“This includes providing of finance, the manner in which the work should have been executed and who shall be the appropriate authority to ensure implementation,” the NGT said.
The green panel said that no “fruitful purpose” would be served by adopting “punitive” action for non-compliance of its directions. It would be more appropriate to adopt an approach which is result oriented and helps in completing the project expeditiously.
The bench, also comprising Justice R S Rathore and Jawad Rahim, said that in order to remove any kind of ambiguity in the minds of authorities, it would deal with each of the major aspects of the project which are either in dispute or have not been implemented properly.
It said it would classify the entire issue of cleaning the river into different broad heads—matters related to finance, sites for setting of STP, future implementation of projects and proposed action with regard to Phase-II of the Yamuna cleaning project.
The Phase-I of the clean Yamuna project aims to lower the pollution levels in the Najafgarh and Delhi Gate drains, while Phase-II deals with Shahdara, Barapullah and other drains. The matter was listed for further hearing tomorrow.
The NGT had on October 23 rapped the AAP government and the DJB for not filing their replies to the show cause notices on why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for delaying compliance of orders on the project.
Delhi Jal Board (DJB) CEO had then told the NGT that out of the total fund of Rs 1,755 crore allocated to the Board, Rs 939 crore was for water and Rs 816 crore for sewage. Of this, Rs 351 crore had been spent on the sewage head on maintenance and the projects allowed by a committee set up by the NGT.
The tribunal was informed that a total of 14 STP projects were to be constructed to clean waste water. Of these, seven are to be built by the DJB with its own funds.
The green panel had said that pollution in the Yamuna was of serious concern as it was highly contaminated by industrial effluents and sewage.
It had noted that almost 67 per cent of the pollutants reaching Yamuna would be treated by the two sewage treatment plants at Delhi Gate and Najafgarh under the first phase of the ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project’.