The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday issued notice to several Uttar Pradesh agencies after residents moved the tribunal over depleting groundwater in Ghaziabad and Hapur districts.
The notice was served to eight agencies, including Ghaziabad development authority, Hapur-Pilkhuwa development authority, UP pollution control board and Ghaziabad municipal corporation. The district magistrates of Ghaziabad and Hapur were also notified.
“Barring one block in Hapur, all areas in Ghaziabad and Hapur are overexploited and the water table is critically low. Countless water intensive industries, other factory units and residential societies are functioning in these areas without the prior mandatory no objection certificate (NOC) from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA),” Sushil Raghav, one of the petitioners, said.
The petitioners contended that the situation persists despite the CGWA declaring the areas under jurisdiction of Ghaziabad municipal corporation (GMC) as ‘notified’ areas in 1998. In a notified area, extraction of groundwater for industrial and infrastructure projects is banned. Groundwater can only be extracted for drinking and domestic use.
In April 1999, the CGWA had further identified the entire area under GMC as ‘critical’, due to contamination of groundwater by toxic elements generated by industrial units in the region.
“Various agencies have failed to keep a check on the decline in groundwater. As a result, numerous handpumps in Maharajpur, Karkar Model, Jhandapur, Teela Morh, Raj Nagar, Vivekanand Nagar, Nehru Nagar, Meerut Road and Patel Nagar areas of Ghaziabad have gone completely dry, since 1995,” Akash Vashistha, the joint petitioner, said. Vashistha is associated with the society for protection of environment & biodiversity.
Rahul Chaudhary, the lawyer for the petitioners, said that the petitioners contended that CGWA guidelines were rampantly flouted.
“We have submitted a list of industries that came into existence after the areas were notified as critical zones by CGWA. Some of the RTIs revealed that only five industries obtained NOCs. We have further mentioned about illegal extraction activities and also the lack of rainwater harvesting units or defunct infrastructure for the same. All these facts have been submitted along with the petition,” he said.
HT on April 22 had discussed the depleting groundwater level in western UP, including Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar, after the activists obtained the data from CGWA through an RTI.
The groundwater scenario in Ghaziabad is very critical. The decrease has been continuous due to heavy extraction for housing projects, untapped treated water, unaccounted use of water drawn by residents through bore wells and submersible pumps, and inability to crack down on the water mafia.
Following the 2011 groundwater resource assessment, Razapur development block in Ghaziabad was declared overexploited. Of the four development blocks in the district -- Loni, Razapur, Bhojpur and Murad Nagar -- the former three are classified as overexploited.