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Delhi Jal Board ex-CEO jailed for polluting Yamuna
Published on 27 Nov. 2008 12:22 AM IST
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The Yamuna will finally get cleaner. In a stunning instance of judicial activism, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday ordered a two-week jail term for former DJB CEO Arun Mathur and two other top officials of the Board for their failure to prevent sewage from flowing into the Yamuna despite assuring the court two years ago that they would take steps to stem the sewage flow into the river. The jail order has been suspended for three months, a Times News Network said. This breather is for the Board to get its act together and "stop entire flow of sewage into storm water drain," said Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra. At present, sewage is seeping into a 4-km storm water drain along Greater Kailash, Masjid Moth, EPR Colony and Chirag Enclave in south Delhi. Now that this jail term is hanging over the heads of the officers, there is a very good chance that the problem that didn't get fixed for two years, will get DJB's priority attention. The three officers have also been fined Rs 20,000 each, to be deducted from their salary immediately. A fourth officer, ex-chief engineer B M Dhaul escaped HC's wrath as he has retired. A visibly angry Justice Dhingra said, "It is only in this country that citizens have to knock at the doors of court in order to get reliefs of the kind sought here. It only shows with what contempt normal citizens of this country are dealt with by authorities and essential facilities like sewage lines are not maintained by DJB despite repeated complaints of the citizen." He also lashed out at DJB for "deep-rooted corruption in the department." The extraordinary step to imprison then CEO Mathur, chief engineer (Drainage) R K Jain and executive engineer P Pant came on a contempt petition filed by the RWA of Greater Kailash S Block. It informed the court that despite assuring the court as far back as 2006, DJB has failed to stop flow of sewer in their colony's storm water drain which flowed untreated into the Yamuna. Justice Dhingra bridled at what he viewed as DJB's attempts to wriggle out of this spot. The agency claimed it had carried out repairs but this was a case of re-occurrence of flow of sewage in the storm water drain due to fresh settlement. Lawyers for DJB told court that fresh tenders had already been invited to mend sewer lines. But the court said, "Excuses are always available for those who don't wish to work." It also trashed DJB's defence that the sewer lines of GK, Masjid Moth and Chirag Enclave were more than 35 years old and so susceptible to collapse. "Main trunk sewer lines are meant to last not decades but centuries since they are life lines of cities and with them is connected the entire sewage system," the judge said. He added: "If a department meant to look after sewer lines is unable to stop flow of sewage and sullage into storm water and Yamuna river, questions can be asked about the utility of such a department. repeated failure of sewer system shows the quality of work being done by DJB...If two and a half years isn't enough to stop flow of sewage, what period of time is needed by DJB nobody knows."

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