GURGAON: Construction sites in Gurgaon use six to eight million gallons of water every day, Haryana’s pollution control board has told the National Green Tribunal in a case on illegal extraction of groundwater by builders.
The board has said it’s not aware of the source of water but suspects a bulk of it could be groundwater, reserves of which have been shrinking alarmingly over the years.
The pollution board said it had sealed illegal borewells being used for construction by 18 developers in the city. “It was brought to our notice that between six and eight MGD of water is used every day for construction purposes but the source of the water has not been disclosed. We are sure that groundwater is being used for construction purpose after extracting it illegally,” states the pollution board’s action-taken report before the NGT.
The report was submitted after a complaint was filed in the tribunal by Vikrant Tongad, a Noida-based environmentalist, against developers. “The defaulting developers couldn’t provide details of the water being used for construction.”, said an official of the board, requesting anonymity. “A construction site in Babupur, for instance, was using 31,000 kilo litres water per day. However, the construction company was purchasing only 19,874 kilo litres water from the treatment plant. The company couldn’t provide details of the source of rest of the water used in the project. So, it is clear many developers have been using groundwater illegally,” the official added.
After the complaint was filed, teams from HSPCB inspected over 300 construction sites, of which 157 didn’t have permission for borewells from the authorities.
The green court has asked the pollution board to upload the names of defaulting developers on the website of the Central Ground Water Authority so that all government department, including Huda and town and country planning can monitor usage of water at construction sites.
In 2012, the Punjab and Haryana high court had banned the use of borewells at construction sites and instructed Huda to supply only treated water to these places.
“Most developers buy only about 30% of the required treated water from us. On the other hand, the total extraction of groundwater from the city is much more than prescribed limits. The gap reflects that groundwater is being used illegally by some developers,” a Huda official said.
The city’s groundwater level has been falling steadily, and according to data available from 2009-14, dived by nearly 10 metres in five years.
“In 2011, the city had 30,000 tubewells extracting over 200 million litres of ground water per day,” said Shanta Singh, a retired hydrologist. Some activists also criticized the authorities for failing to take steps to recharge depleting groundwater levels. According to an estimate, in the 1980s, there were about 140 waterbodies and lakes in the city, of which only 20 still exist.
“Unless water bodies in the city are revived and a robust water harvesting system is introduced, the situation will continue to become worse,” said Colonel Oberoi, a water conservationist.
Tongad, the petitioner in the NGT, said, “After we filed a case against builders in Noida and Greater Noida illegally extracting groundwater, the NGT appointed a local commission to randomly check construction sites all over Delhi and NCR. The commissioner filed his reports with the NGT and based on that, the Haryana pollution board has conducted its independent inspections. Groundwater continues to be used at construction sites, despite a ban by the green court. Our case on the matter is still with the NGT. The next hearing is by March end.”
Credits ET Realty