In a bid to allow groundwater recharge during the upcoming monsoon, the Ghaziabad district administration has decided to rejuvenate at least 40 ponds in four development blocks of the district.
Officials said that 10 water bodies each would be rejuvenated in all four blocks -- Razapur, Bhojpur, Murad Nagar and Loni. The Ghaziabad district has presence of 163 villages which have around 590 ponds, according to official date, besides those present in urban areas.
“Under the redevelopment plan, we will desilt and deepen the depth of ponds, to allow fresh rain water recharge. We will clear encroachments on their embankments and will also undertake tree plantation around the water bodies. The idea is to redevelop at least one pond in every village and locality over the next couple of years,” RC Saxena, district development officer, said.
“Last year, we had proposed to rejuvenate 21 ponds but work on only 17 could be completed. This year, we have decided to start work early and finish it before June 10. The funds, nearly `70,000 for each pond, will be provided by the gram panchayats,” he said.
According to official statistics, the entire district, including the city, has presence of nearly 1,787 ponds and other water bodies, spreading over an area of nearly 915.30 hectares. Out of these, nearly 175 water bodies, having an area of 33.64 hectares, were found to be encroached upon. During encroachment removal drive, nearly 16 water bodies, over an area of 2.91 hectares, were cleared.
“Various water bodies were encroached upon by government agencies for development of residential areas and other infrastructure. The district is witnessing rapid depletion in groundwater due to rampant and unchecked groundwater extraction activities. It leaves us only with ponds to recharge groundwater,” Vikrant Sharma, an environment activist, said.
Many said that the encroachment removal drive was undertaken half-heartedly. One of the suggestions that the officials suggested was to dig up new ponds in lieu of old ones, which have dried up.
“There is hardly any land left for digging up new ponds in lieu of the ones that are completely encroached or have become extinct. Roadsides are massively concretised with tiles. There is hardly any space left for rain water to permeate underground. The agencies should start a movement to revive water bodies but they seem to be disinterested,” Sushil Raghav, an activist who had earlier moved National Green Tribunal for revival of ponds in Ghaziabad, said.