I mean no disrespect to the Supreme Court judges but what I want to point out is that their knowledge of ecology or environment is too cursory and too outdated. Since such subjects do not come within the strict ambit of the law, the learned judges find themselves out of depth while dealing with them. The two big cases, with which I have been associated as a petitioner, have been decided in a manner that has left me gaping. One case relates to the location of the Commonwealth Games Village and the other is about the permission to build malls at Vasant Kunj in Delhi, deficient of water. The location of the Games Village shows the unseen hand of politicians, builders and others who have landed India into another scam. I am all for the Games. What intrigues me is the site which is next to the Yamuna. The government could have located the Village at Dwarka or some other place because it had all the time to do so. Yet, even before other sites were considered, it became an open secret that ultimately the Village would come up somewhere near the Yamuna bank because the vested interests were out to make a pie. Coming to the judgment, I must say that both the judges of the Delhi High Court, Justices Sikri and Rekha Sharma, saw through the motives of the DDA and other government agencies and central ministries. The judgment by the High Court had the depth and arguments which led to the appointment of a high-power committee headed by R K Pachori to find out how the ecology and water bodies, including the floodplains, would be affected if the Games Village were to come at the designated site. Unfortunately, the NEERI, the organisation he heads, let down the environmentalists and others. It accepted the Yamuna area as a projected recharge zone in its first report recommending that no building be permitted. In the second report, it stuck to the same position but said that only temporary structures be permitted. In its final report, the NEERI changed its scientific assessment to say that it was now not a floodplain and buildings be allowed. The NEERI assessments are obviously scientifically false and incorrect. This shows that the organisation is no longer a scientific institution but a pliable pawn. It is a slur on science and has no credibility and needs to be shut down. The Supreme Court has depended on that information to come to the conclusion that the area does not relate to the riverbed or floodplains. The Yamuna, a major tributary of the Ganges, comes down to Delhi from the Himalayas. It has been there for over 50 million years, running its banks during the monsoon, swollen with water and depositing sends on its floodplains. This sandy layer on top is now about 40 metres deep. Take an equal amount of river sand and water in two identical glasses and start pouring the water into the sandglass. Half the water glass can empty into the sand. Sand and gravel are great for water storage - they are aquifer material. The Yamuna river floodplain in Delhi is about 100 square kilometres in area and on an average 40 metres deep. It can hold a lot of water - about two billion cubic metres. At the lower end, the market value of tanker water in Delhi is Rs 1000 for 10,000 litres or 10 cubic metres. The recharge value of the floodplain works out to be over Rs 7000 crore a year. Recycling the same volume of water works out to be even a little more. Is it not crazy to lose quality in recycling water with more technology and dispense more waste in the environment, with costs over Rs 7000 crore a year? As regards the malls at Vasant Kunj, I pleaded for a stay on the buildings till the disposal of the case because the concrete and cement were to be poured on the source of water-discharge. The area is part of the Ridge and part of the forest. The government went through a rigmarole of public hearing. The report was not favourable to the builders. Nor did the government take into account the findings of the Bhure Lal committee which said that buildings should not come up because there was no water. But the Supreme Court did not give a stay at that time. Once the construction was two-thirds complete, the Supreme Court said that it was too late to stay the work since crores of rupees had already been spent. Thanks for the small mercy, the court asked the Environment Ministry to fine the builders for not taking prior permission on a horde of things. The fine, as I found out through RTI, was merely Rs 1 lakh. The writer is a former member of the Indian Parliament and senior journalist E-mail: knayar@nation.com.pk