Real estate boom takes toll on groundwater

Noida and Greater Noida fall in the water-rich doab — lying between two confluent rivers — area. It has Yamuna’s catchment on the one side and Hindon on the other. Yet, mindless extraction of groundwater for massive construction has caused irreparable damage to the water table in New Delhi.

Real estate development in the twin townships has taken a heavy toll on the groundwater table.

The Central Ground Water Board’s (CGWB) data shows Noida’s water table is depleting at an alarming rate of 122mm a year. In 2004, water table for Gautam Budh Nagar district (which comprises both Noida and Greater Noida) was in the ‘safe’ category; in 2009, it slipped into ‘semi-critical’ zone and experts say, at this rate, in the next three years, the water table will hit a ‘critical’ level.

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A developer extracts about 2 lakh litres of water during deep digging for high-rises, basements and parkings. This water is then dumped into drains. With over 200 big construction projects in various stages of development, the amount of groundwater under threat can be anybody’s guess.

Despite massive exploitation of the groundwater, no measures are being put in place to ensure recovery. Rainwater harvesting is almost nil in Noida. None of the developers have either obtained ‘no objection’ certificates from any authority nor have they recycled water extracted during construction.

Although building bylaws makes it mandatory for industrial units in Noida to set up rainwater harvesting projects, only 76 of 7,000 units have so far complied. The government ordered compulsory rainwater harvesting projects for plots but the order was never enforced.The CGWB on January 16, 2013 imposed a ban on extraction of groundwater in Noida and Greater Noida.

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