Last Straw: Can Yamuna ever regain its pristine flow, SC asks IIT directors

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the directors of IIT-Delhi and Roorkee to ascertain damage to the Yamuna and whether there is any possibility of improving its water.

"It is a very sad thing that the petition is pending with this court since 1994 and Yamuna only got dirtier with each passing day. In total, Rs 12,000 crore has been spent on it while the situation only got worse. You (directors) see whether this (cleaning up) can be done or not. As the situation remains today, we get it that it is not possible to clean Yamuna unless some drastic steps are taken," a bench of Justices Swatanter Kumar and Madan B Lokur told the directors.

Annoyed with agencies that keep passing the buck, the bench had in the previous hearing asked the directors to appear in court to assist in the matter.

The court asked them to assess the situation and prepare a blueprint of a plan to clean the river. "Until and unless some drastic steps are taken with respect to discharge of drains, working of sewage treatment plants, interceptor drains, etc, it may not be possible to clean the river. We want you to prepare an outline. You give us a plan and we will consider giving you a team (to execute the plan)," the bench said.

The court also indicated that the directors will have to look at the aspects of quantity of water, waste disposal, flow of water, sewage treatment plants, etc. "The purpose is not to blame anyone, but to do something for the river. The Yamuna requires attention and concern of all, and we hope that all agencies co-operate to clean the Yamuna," the court said.

The bench asked the directors to hold a meeting with chief secretaries of Delhi and Haryana, CEO of Delhi Jal Board, member secretary of Central Pollution Control Board, commissioners of municipal corporations of Delhi, vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), on January 12 and submit a report to the court on February 8.

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