Ensure free water scheme is not misused: Green court to Delhi Jal Board
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Wednesday directed the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to take steps to prevent wastage of water in the city. The tribunal noted that some housing colonies were misusing the Delhi government’s scheme of providing 20,000 litres of water free of cost every month.
The NGT also noted that some colonies started extracting groundwater by using borewells to avoid payment of water tariffs even after availing 20,000 liters of water being provided free of cost.
“The policy of providing 20,000 litres of water free per month results in excessive use of water. DJB needs to ensure that treated waste water is mandatorily utilised, as its release without any use is a colossal waste of public exchequer,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said.
A senior DJB official said that they have not received the NGT order and could comment or respond only after studying the order in detail.
The order came after perusing a report filed by a monitoring committee which said Delhi government’s scheme of providing 20,000 litres of water each month free of cost to every household in the national capital is being misused by several housing colonies.
“The extraction of groundwater by using tubewells and borewells is being done to avoid payment of water tariff. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) should take effective steps to prevent this practice,” the panel said.
Earlier this year, the Delhi government had told the Delhi Assembly that around 20,000 litres of free water each month was provided across the national capital by using nearly Rs 400 crore, benefitting 5.3 lakh consumers through the water subsidy scheme.
In contrast to the committee’s finding, the Delhi government had also said that the scheme also led to an increase in water conservation as consumers reduced consumption to avail benefit of the scheme and also led to increase in number of functional water meters.
The committee, which submitted its report in NGT, is headed by Justice SP Garg (retired) and also comprises representative each from the DJB, Central Pollution Control Board, Central Ground Water Authority and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) concerned.
The committee in its report stated that as of June, 2019, the number of illegal borewells in the city stood at 17,062.
The green panel also directed the DJB to prepare an action plan, in consultation with civic bodies or experts, to ensure that rain water harvesting systems are installed in all government buildings, group housing societies and new buildings where occupancy certificate is yet to be issued.
As per rules, rooftop rainwater harvesting systems are mandated for every plot measuring more than 100 square metres. The panel noted that overuse of ground water for drinking, irrigation and domestic purposes has resulted in its rapid depletion. The water table has dropped to more than 300 feet in many areas of the national capital.
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