Terming as “lethargic” the approach of BMC in finalising a site to set up doppler radar system in the city, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the civic chief for dragging his feet on the issue.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Ajoy Mehta appeared before a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak, as directed last week by the high court.
Mr Mehta informed the court that he has granted sanction to set up the system on the site identified by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and the proposal would be placed before the Improvement Committee and then the General Body of the BMC for final approval.
BMC counsel SU Kamdar, however, pointed out that a portion of the site has been demarcated for setting up a reservoir to supply drinking water to the city.
The court sought to know by when the committee would meet to discuss on the issue.
“We want the committee to hold a meeting immediately and also ensure that IMD officials are also included in the meeting. The civic body has already wasted a lot of time by not following court orders and not fulfilling commitments made by it before us,” Chief Justice Chellur said.
“This is an important issue considering what happened in the city during the deluge in the past (referring to the July 26, 2005 flood). I don’t want Mumbai to go dark again like in the past during monsoon. Life came to a standstill then. I don’t want people of Mumbai to suffer. The city requires for this doppler radar system to be set up immediately,” the bench said.
The High Court said it expects the civic chief to take all efforts to ensure that the committee holds a meeting at the earliest, and posted the matter for further hearing next week.
“The civic chief shall remain present before us next week also and tell us the date on which the committee would hold the meeting. All this work happens faster when the chief (Mehta) appears before us,” the bench said.
The High Court further said that “if this is the situation and lethargic approach by the corporation, we fail to understand how it will handle any calamity during monsoon in Mumbai.”
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Atal Bihari Dubey on the heavy rains that brought Mumbai to a halt in June this year.
While there is one doppler radar system at the Colaba weather station, a state government-appointed committee had earlier recommended setting up of another such facility in suburban Mumbai.
The high court bench pointed out to the assurance given by the BMC on September 1 that the site would be handed over to IMD within eight weeks.
“How did the corporation make such an assurance when it has not even approved the handing over of land? Should we initiate contempt against the concerned officer? If a senior officer goes behind jail for one day for contempt, only then the system would improve,” the court said.
The bench noted that such assurances and submissions are made just to escape from the court on that day, and then nothing is done till the court raises the issue.
It also said that if the BMC commissioner is unable to take a decision on the issue, the court would direct principal secretary of the state Urban Development Department to appear before it.
If the principal secretary is also not able to do anything, then the High Court would ask state Chief Secretary to appear before the court, the judges further said.