The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday rejected the Delhi government’s stand on illegal extraction of groundwater as “imaginative” and formed a committee to check the problem.
“Water levels in Delhi have gone down in the recent past by hundreds of feet. The figures (of illegal borewells and action taken) seem imaginative,” the tribunal said. “No consumer (using illegal borewells) is paying the price. This becomes an incentive, which leads to loss of groundwater and shortage of potable water. Despite a government notification issued in 2010 to check illegal extraction, things have gone from bad to worse,” it said.
The committee headed by Delhi’s environment secretary will in a month prepare a comprehensive plan to check the illegal extraction of groundwater. It will list all legal and illegal tubewells in Delhi. It will also ensure cases are filed against those flouting the rules.
“All legal tubewells will have water meters. The committee will recommend a charge for use of groundwater,” the tribunal said. The committee will recommend measures to prevent pollution and check depleting groundwater levels in Delhi and suggest methods to encourage rainwater harvesting.
The chief executive officer of the Delhi Jal Board and the deputy commissioner (south west) of Delhi’s revenue department said there were only 806 legal and 205 illegal tubewells in Delhi.
Suggest steps to check illegal extraction of groundwater.
Ensure cases are filed against violators.
Ensure legal tubewells have water meters. NGT will hear the matter on Oct 4, when the panel files its report.
The green watchdog was far from impressed even by the latest stand and said: “It has been reported before us that there are more than 4.5 lakh tubewells extracting underground water in Delhi. Be that as it may, it cannot be disputed that there are a large number of illegal tubewells operating in Delhi.”
Suggest measures to check falling groundwater levels in the city, encourage rainwater harvesting. nal is hearing a petition filed by the legal aid cell of the national green tribunal bar association. The committee will submit its report by October 4, when the matter is heard next.
Senior lawyer Raj Panjwani, who appeared for the bar, said: “DJB’s claim that it’s a mere water supply authority and doesn’t permit borewells will not hold. Its CEO is also part of the committee formed by the court.”