The National Green Tribunal has rapped the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for coming out with lame excuses instead of performing its duty on the issue of the constitution of special purpose vehicle (SPV) for rejuvenation of the Yamuna river.
"Rejuvenation of river Yamuna is an important function and DDA cannot shy away from its statutory responsibility. Yamuna rejuvenation can be model for rejuvenation of 351 river stretches in the country given its location in the national capital territory where all expert authorities and funds are available," the green tribunal said.
The DDA had expressed its inability before the NGT to constitute a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for rejuvenation of the Yamuna river saying there were legal impediments in creating a separate legal entity under the Delhi Development Act, 1957.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the stand of the DDA that a special agency to deal with the protection of flood plains and undertaking restoration programmes cannot be constituted by it is wholly untenable.
It said that DDA has been constituted under the Delhi Development Authority Act, 1957 and its statutory responsibility is development of the national capital.
"DDA must forthwith comply with the earlier direction instead of finding lame excuses and taking stand of avoiding public duty," the bench said.
The tribunal said that Section 5A of the DDA Act enables the authority to constitute as many committees as may be necessary for various purposes.
"We fail to understand as to why a SPV by whatever name called cannot be constituted under Section 5A of the DDA Act, 1957 or under the ancillary powers and duties of the DDA, " the bench said.
The bench said that any such difficulty might be sorted out in consultation with the Yamuna Monitoring Committee and the Principal Committee.
"A dedicated agency needs to be in place which can focus on issues relating to the Yamuna rejuvenation and also involve the civil society or such other experts/institutions as may be found necessary for ecological restoration of the flood plain zones, setting up of bio-diversity parks, artificial wetlands...," the bench said.
The body might also take steps to attract and educate the citizens and environment enthusiasts for nature-related activities, including building environmental temper amongst citizenry, without in any manner causing any damage to the flood plains, the NGT said.
Expressing inability to form SPV, the DDA had told the NGT that the word "may" was used by this tribunal in its order since it considered it appropriate that taking into account all the attendant circumstances DDA should consider the option whether or not to constitute an SPV.
"In light of the provisions of DDA Act, it is submitted that as per section 52 of the Act, DDA may delegate powers exercisable by only to officers, local authority or committees. There is no enabling provision under the Act to either constitute a society or a special purpose vehicle or to delegate its powers to an entity or other person not specifically mentioned in section 52 of the Act."
"It is submitted that since DDA has been created under DDA Act, it cannot operate beyond the limits set by the said Act. It should not be out of place to mention here that already a mechanism is in place in order to monitor the Yamuna. This includes Upper Yamuna River Board and Unified Centre for Restoration and rejuvenation of River Yamuna," DDA said in its report filed in the NGT.