The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday directed the Punjab local government department and the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to take measures for stopping the misuse of underground water for construction activities and ensure that only surface water treated by sewage treatment plants is used for the purpose.
The directions came from the division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Augustine George Masih on a public interest litigation filed by advocate HC Arora. The court directed the authorities concerned to implement all those measures that they had mentioned in their replies before the high court and to submit the compliance report by December 7.
Earlier, the court was informed that the state government had issued instructions that in the letters of allotment of land itself, a condition shall be incorporated to the effect that underground water shall not be used for construction purposes and alternative sources such as surface water or treated water from nearby sewage treatment plants shall be used. Also, borewells/tubewells shall be identified and builders shall ensure that water meters are installed on such wells so that underground water is only used for drinking.
Also, Manvesh Singh Sidhu, PUDA's chief administrator, had informed the court that rainwater harvesting shall be provided in all mega projects and sewage treatment plants shall be mandatory for mega projects with an area of 10 acres or above.
The petitioner had sought the enforcement of various notifications issued by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA). The CGWA had declared 46 blocks in Punjab "notified areas", banning the use of groundwater for construction, including Ludhiana city, Moga-I, Moga-II, Sangrur, Mahal Kalan, Ahmedgarh, Nakodar, Shahkot, Lohia, Patran, Phagwara, Nihal Singh Wala, Dhuri, Sunam, Barnala, Sherpur, Malerkotla and Khanna.