Groundwater issue heats up

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NOIDA: The National Green Tribunal on Thursday issued show-cause notices to the CEO of Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway authorities and the Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate to explain their failure in curbing extraction of groundwater by developers despite a ban enforced in the region since January 2013. The authorities have been asked to explain what measures have been undertaken to enforce the ban in the district.

The notices were issued by the principal bench of the tribunal based upon the report of a five-member fact-finding committee constituted by it earlier this week. The committee, which visited around a dozen construction sites in Noida and Greater Noida, submitted its report to the tribunal on Thursday. Officials of the authorities and the district magistrate have been ordered to appear before the tribunal on the next date of hearing.

Based on the findings presented in the report a copy of which is with TOI the tribunal has also directed the Central Ground Water Authority to reply as to why groundwater extraction has not been halted. The developers named in the report have also been asked to submit replies as to why action should not be initiated against them for groundwater extraction despite the ban.

During the survey, the committee found that most of the structures in the construction sites were being built at levels either at par with the groundwater table or below. In order to get a true picture of the impact of construction activities on the groundwater ecosystem, the committee has recommended for a study by a competent agency by using remote-sensing technology.

Though the authorities have claimed that they have been selling treated water from their STPs to developers for undertaking construction work, the committee has stressed upon verifying these claims. As per the findings, no adequate source of water was available at any of the sites other than groundwater. The committee has also recommended the need to ascertain if the Authority has the necessary capacity to provide water from the STPs to all infrastructure projects.

A recommendation has been made by the committee to inspect if private operators are selling groundwater to developers after extracting it from other sources and if such a system is backed by legal sanctions.

The committee came across several instances where numerous motor pumps were emptying water from deeply excavated foundation sites. It has recommended for a system to assess the macro-impact of wastage of underground water by way of construction activities. It has called for a scientific study to determine if underground water frequently seeps into excavated sites and if natural water channels get blocked once the areas are concretised.


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