The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has pulled up Punjab authorities for undue delay in building and operationalising a sewage treatment plant (STP) in Amritsar originally slated for May 31, observing that all stakeholders were indulging in blame game against each other.
Holding that the project was of public importance and a utility, a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said “vague reasons” were given in the applications moved by the concerned authority seeking extension of time to complete the project.
The tribunal, however, granted final extension of time till November 15, for completion of the project subject to Rs 50,000 cost to be paid by Water Supply and Sewerage Board.
“The project has been unduly delayed. Every stake holder is trying to shift the blame on other agency. It is a project of public utility and public importance. All authorities are expected to execute the work expeditiously and as per the design finalised,” the green panel said.
“In the application for extension of time, vague reasons have been stated. However, in the interest of justice and larger public interest, we grant one final extension of time for completion of the project. The cost will be payable to National Green Tribunal Bar Association,” the bench said.
During the hearing, the Board’s counsel prayed for further extension of time but the NGT declined the request.
“The superintending engineer and chief executive officer of the board and contractor executing the work will be personally responsible for compliance of this order. We would be compelled to take punitive action if the project is not completed within time granted,” it said, adding there was no justification for extending the time beyond November 15.
The board had sought extension of time for completion of project on various grounds, including submission of documents to the finance ministry of Punjab for signature of the competent authority, delay in supply of cement and steel and change in the project design.
The tribunal had earlier noted that the STP was to be operationalised by March 31 this year. It had directed all the concerned authorities to expedite the project and ensure that the plant becomes operative by May 31.