The Capital’s pollution watchdog has asked Bisleri’s packaged drinking water manufacturing plant in west Delhi to shut shop immediately. The reason: The plant has been drawing 3.31 lakh litres of groundwater every day without requisite approval.
This quantity of water is sufficient to meet the daily requirements of 2,500 people.
Illegal drawing of groundwater is a big menace. Census 2011 reveals that Delhi has about 4.5 lakh tubewells and borewells and most of whom are illegal. The revenue department has granted only 806 boring permissions.
The issue becomes even more critical as Delhi has been facing a perennial water crisis. The current water demand in Delhi is 1,050 million gallons per day (MGD), while the supply stands at 850 MGD.
Delhi’s environment secretary Sanjiv Kumar said on Wednesday, “Nobody will be allowed to draw groundwater illegally for commercial purposes. We are preparing a list and will launch a crackdown soon”.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) inspected the plant on Najafgarh Road’s industrial area on March 15 and found three illegal borewells. Moreover, the firm does not have any water meters.
The DPCC had in February rejected the firm’s application for permission to operate the plant since it had not taken permission to draw ground water.
The pollution watchdog asked the local discom to disconnect the power supply and the Delhi Jal Board to stop water supply. The revenue department will ensure immediate closure of the plant. In case of violations of these directions, the firm will face action under the Water (prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1974.
DPCC member secretary Sandeep Mishra said: “For units like the one we’re closing, water is a raw material. There is a mafia that supplies water to construction sites, hotels and restaurants. They must face action. “
Pollution board sources hinted that the figure of 3.31 lakh litres a day may be old and the current amount of water extraction may be much more.
When contacted, general manager (technical) of Bisleri’s Delhi plant, Ganesh (who goes by one name), said: “We have received the order and have given a representation to them. We’re awaiting their reply.”
The NGT on Wednesday criticised government departments for lack of coordination in demarcating forest boundaries. “One department does not know or does not conform to the functioning of the other department,” the NGT said. This was after the deputy commissioner (south) said that though the revenue department had marked three reference points so that the forest department can prepare maps, the maps have not been duly verified by the revenue department.