The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has agreed to rejuvenate 60 ponds in villages located along the 22km stretch of 135km Eastern Peripheral Expressway.
The 22km stretch of the highway falls in Gautam Budh Nagar district and 1,270 farmers of 39 villages have given their land for the crucial project.
The NHAI, a central government agency, is constructing the Rs 5,000 crore 135 km expressway on Delhi’s periphery with the aim to decongest Delhi roads.
The objective of this expressway is to provide an alternative route to heavy transport vehicles bound for other states to bypass Delhi , thereby help reducing the air pollution in the national capital.
If these ponds are revived, rainwater can be recycled to recharge the depleting groundwater table, officials said. According to a Central Ground Water Board report, groundwater decreased at a rate of 3.87 metres per year in 2012 against the earlier figure of one metre per year in 2008, in the two of the largest blocks in the district – Dankaur and Bisrakh (expressway is coming up in Dankaur area).
There are 929 ponds in the district and more than 505 of them have been grabbed by the land mafia.
“In the meeting held with the Gautam Budh Nagar district administration on Thursday, district magistrate NP Singh asked us to rejuvenate ponds and we agreed. Work on expressway is on full swing and we will be happy to use our resources to help the administration rejuvenate ponds as they are essential to conserve rainwater,” said Kishore Kanyal, NHAI project director of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, Gautam Budh Nagar and Faridabad.
The district magistrate has directed subdivisional magistrate (SDM) RK Singh and other staff members to make a list of villages where these dead ponds are located.
“I presented the idea to NHAI to revive these ponds because we can do this work without spending any fund. Rainwater goes down the drain as ponds in villages are dead. The NHAI with their excavation machines will dig up the soil to rejuvenate ponds, which were traditionally used to recharge the groundwater table,” NP Singh said.
The administration has not set any deadline for compiling the list of ponds but the work will be done as soon as possible, officials said.
“I have directed that the NHAI should revive these ponds by the time it finishes its work on the expressway in the district,” NP singh said.
The NHAI is likely to complete 22km stretch by October 2017.
“We are freeing ponds from all sorts of encroachment and have already revived around 200 of them with the aim to conserve rainwater,” the DM said.