Editorial: Water worries

While slapping Rs 25 lakh on two units in Noida for unauthorised extraction of water, the National Green Tribunal has said in view of depleting groundwater, there is a threat of irreversible damage to the environment leading to scarcity of drinking water.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel noted that there is no operative non objection certificate (NOC) as far as Noida Golf Course and Advant Navis Business Park are concerned.

It said Noida Golf Course and Advant Navis Business Park have to pay an interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh, which may be deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within one month.

The tribunal was perusing a report filed by a committee of the CPCB and Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, which said that groundwater is being illegally drawn and the allegation that misuse of groundwater for horticulture purpose is taking place is not disputed.

NGT, while stating that it is not clear whether conditions of NOC are being complied with, referred to its previous directions that groundwater cannot be used for a playground like cricket ground, particularly in over-exploited, critical and semi-critical area, which also applies to Golf Course.

According to the bench, “In view of depleting groundwater, there is a threat of irreversible damage to the acquifiers and salinity of the water. Moreover, it is leading to scarcity of drinking water, thereby depriving a section of the society from access to potable water which is already scarce. The rainwater harvesting systems have to be regularly maintained as per norms.”

The tribunal said that the state pollution control board has failed to assess and recover compensation for illegal drawal of groundwater.

“The assessment of quantity of water drawn needs to be made realistically and adverse inference has to be drawn for absence of water meter…” the NGT said, adding: “Water audit may be conducted to ascertain the extent of use and replenishment of groundwater in the last three years by the same Committee with an additional representative of CPCB and Indian Institute of Technology- Delhi.”

The Committee may also assess compensation to be paid and may also look into the water quality aspects of the rainwater harvesting systems and suggest remedial measures as may be found necessary, it stated. This is not an issue which is particular to Noida alone.

Similar acts are being carried out for business interests across the country and it is time to restrict and regulate the extraction of water to preserve nature for the future generations.

 

NT Bureau