Anyone driving through Greater Noida West could be forgiven for thinking that he is in a desert or the ‘apocalyptic wasteland’ of Mad Max: Fury Road.
Sand dunes dot the Greater Noida West area, giving residents a feeling that they live in a desert and not on the plains near the Ganga.
Residents of the area say it is heartbreaking to see that the “dream homes” that they bought with their hard-earned money are covered in dust. The home buyers say they are forced to keep all windows shut all the time, regardless of the weather outside. Though the authorities fine builders for any violation of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order issued for controlling pollution due to construction activities, builders say they should not be held responsible for pollution on roads.
Amid all the blame game, it is the residents who suffer. Many of them now think if they made a mistake by investing their life’s savings here.
“Every day, we wake up in rooms full of dust. We paid huge prices for the flats here and thought that it will be our dream homes. But the area has become a desert. We feel as if we are living in Kabul or Baghdad and not in the plains of the river Ganga,” said Abhimanyu Singh, a captain in the merchant navy who lives in Greater Noida West.
On February 2, the Noida authority fined 11 builders for flouting NGT norms on dust control. However, the builders said they could not clean the dust lying on the roadside because it is caused by the constructions being carried out by contractors hired by the government for infrastructure projects.
“We held a session with all members of the confederation of real estate developers’ association of India (CREDAI) and asked them to follow NGT orders. Whoever is flouting the norms should be punished. We are spending money to make sure that our construction activities do not cause pollution,” said Manoj Gaur, CREDAI president (NCR).
Builders say a major cause of the pollution in Greater Noida West is the large-scale infrastructure work being carried out in the region. According to them, the contractors hired by the government for infrastructure works such as construction of roads and laying of electricity lines should be held responsible for the pollution.
“There are many housing projects under construction in Greater Noida as well, but there is no dust on the roads there because the area already has infrastructure facilities. But in Greater Noida West, infrastructure is still being developed and the contractors hired by the government for these works do not take all precautions to stop dust from flying. These contractors dig a road and often leave the mud and soil on the spot,” Gaur said.
Residents, who shifted to the area in a hope of a better life, demand an immediate solution to the problem. They warned the authority of legal action if steps are not taken immediately to control the dust.
“The action of the authority against builders is just eyewash. They are hand in glove with them. If they really want us to breathe clean air, they should act now. Otherwise, we will have no option but to knock on the doors of the court. The air in Greater Noida West is like that of a desert,” said Abhishek Kumar, president of the Noida extension flat owners’ welfare association (NEFOWA).
The Noida authority promised quick action against defaulters and said it plans to tackle the problem with high-end machines.
“High-end machines to suck dust from roads will be bought soon. They will be used to clean the roads at night,” said Saumya Srivastava, deputy chief executive officer of Noida authority.