The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has warned various central and Delhi government agencies to come clean on illegal extraction of groundwater in the Capital or face action.
Hearing a petition filed by the legal aid cell of the national green tribunal bar association, the NGT said these agencies would also detail action taken so far against illegal extraction of water. They have to spell out the number of authorised or illegal bore wells/ tube wells in Delhi.
The petition requests the tribunal to direct the authorities to take steps to check illegal extraction of water and ensure rainwater harvesting. The New Delhi Municipal Council, Delhi's department of environment and forests, besides the irrigation and flood control department filed their replies on July 10.
The NDMC responded only when the tribunal issued a bailable warrant against it during a hearing on May 23. The tribunal has given the Delhi government, central ground water authority, Delhi Jal Board, besides Delhi's revenue department one final chance to respond, failing which their department heads will have to appear in the tribunal when the matter is heard next on August 6.
Delhi Jal Board extracts 100 MGD (million gallons a day) of groundwater every day. Although groundwater extraction is banned, about 4.5 lakh tubewells/borewells continue to extract water with impunity. Water levels in south Delhi areas such as Vasant Kunj, Chhatarpur and CR Park have gone down between 15-30 metres in the last decade.
Petitioner's lawyer Parul Gupta said, "The central ground water board through several notifications has declared almost entire Delhi as a notified area. The lieutenant governor issued a notification in 2010, directing that no person shall draw groundwater through borewell or tubewell without the permission of the competent authority. Despite various orders and directions issued since 1996, groundwater continues to be extracted excessively, haphazardly and illegally."
The state government has issued a notification for rainwater harvesting but it has not been implemented in letter and spirit, the petition said.