The Supreme Court on Tuesday constituted a five-member committee, including an expert from IIT Delhi, to examine the viability of Delhi Jal Board’s proposed Interceptor Sewage Technology Project in comparison with its earlier project based on the Thames Model to ensure that only treated sewage flew into the Yamuna.
A three-Judge Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakishnan asked the panel to submit its report within four weeks and fixed the matter for further hearing on May 8.
According to the court’s order, the DJB CEO would be the Member Convenor of the Committee. The other four members would be - one each from IIT Delhi, Central Pollution Control Board, Central Water Commission and Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation. These organisations have been asked to nominate one expert each on the panel.
The new DJB plan involves an expenditure of Rs 4,643 crore and acquisition of around 400 acre of land, the Delhi Government said.
Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar, who is assisting the court in the case as Amicus Curiae, had objected to the Interceptor Sewage Technology Project on the ground that it would further delay the whole scheme that had already swallowed Rs 1700 crore and had been hanging fire for 12 years.
Objecting to the new project, Kumar said "for the last 10 years DJB has been working and what they have achieved…now they are saying they would spend around Rs 18,000 crore for three years on a new technology.” He said the DJB was racing against time in view of the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in the capital.
At the very outset of the proceedings, on behalf of the DJB, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian suggested that an expert body should be given the task of examining the project and everybody should accept the conclusions arrived at by that body. He suggested the names of IIT, Delhi and Roorki for the purpose.
However, Kumar wanted the body to be broad-based and on his suggestions the experts from other organisations were included. The ASG also supported it.
Under the Thames Model, the DJB had earlier talked of setting up STPs at the mouth of the drains so as to ensure that sewage was treated properly before its discharge into the river. However, later it changed the plan and decided to introduce the Interceptor Sewage Technology to ensure that only treated water went to the drain that fell into the Yamuna.
Pressing his case for the new plan, the ASG asserted that DJB was an expert body and the new plan had been prepared after due deliberations.
The court had taken suo motu cognizance of a Hindustan Times Report in 1994 and since then it is treating the issue as a PIL and monitoring the progress in making the Yamuna pollution-free on its 22-km stretch in the capital from Wazirabad to Okhala Barrage.