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GMDA proposes slew of measures to boost groundwater recharge, experts sceptical

The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), in a bid to increase the city’s groundwater recharge capacity by up to five times, has proposed a slew of measures including channelising creeks, and creating check dams as well as eight new ponds
By Suparna Roy, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 11:19 PM IST

The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), in a bid to increase the city’s groundwater recharge capacity by up to five times, has proposed a slew of measures including channelising creeks, and creating check dams as well as eight new ponds.

The GMDA proposed these measures while responding to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the preparation of an action plan to mitigate the effect of reduction in recharge capacity due to concretisation of the Badshahpur drain, which was sought after a petition was filed in the green court.

As per the “report on abetment measures undertaken by GMDA to negate the adverse impact of concretisation of Badshahpur drain”, signed by Rajesh Bansal, superintendent engineer for infrastructure division of GMDA, a total of 19,620 metres of the drain has been concretised, with 5,770 metres left intact. A copy of the report was accessed by HT.

The Badshahpur drain — downwards from Ghata village till the Najafgarh drain, passing along Badshahpur — was concretised around five years ago by the Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP). In May 2019, the NGT had sought a report from the state pollution control board regarding the impact of the concretisation and boxing of drain on groundwater recharge, the flow of water in the drain and impact on urban sprawl.

Responding to this, the pollution control board in October 2019 had informed the NGT that “concretisation reduces the groundwater recharge.” The NGT then directed that abatement measures are adopted to ensure that rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge are not affected and flooding is avoided.

The report states, “Creation of new pondage areas by constructing check dams across creeks, channelization of creeks, creation of recharge wells and construction of new drain from Vatika Chowk along SPR up to NH-48 to cater the additional run-off that is generated because of increase in the urbanization...”

To arrest the flow of water towards Golf Course Road, the GMDA has planned to create check dams in the zones, where urbanisation is not possible, and provide recharge wells “to recharge the groundwater through natural and artificial recharging of the ground, rather than constructing large drainage channels and allowing the run-off to flow ultimately into Najafgarh drain and Yamuna river during rains.” The development authority aims to create eight ponds across 951 acres.

The GMDA has also proposed the construction of 183 additional recharge wells to arrest the flow of stormwater and to reduce the run-off from the area.

The report states that 100 recharge wells, along with ponds and creeks, will be made to recharge around 1,088,640 cubic metres in a year. Eighty-three more recharge wells along with drains will help in additional recharging of around 272,954 cubic metres per year. The officials will also work on reviving 26 ponds under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram.

“Total proposed recharge in to ground as per the scheme is about five times the assessed reduction in the recharge capacity. No natural drain will be concretised, and drains will only be constructed in urbanised area to tap the run-off into the natural drains. The intent is to tap the run-off and increase the recharge by creation of check dams and to avoid the flooding in the area by channelisation of creeks,” the report states.

Sudhir Rajpal, the chief executive officer of GMDA, who has recently taken over the charge, said, “We are working with all departments and still assessing the situation.”

However, environmentalists have raised concerns about the plan proposed by the development authority.

Vaishali Rana, a city-based environmentalist, on whose petition the NGT had asked the authorities concerned to prepare a plan, said, “The petition was about boxing and narrowing down of the Badshahpur drain, which has not been addressed in the report. The narrowing down of the drain has heavily led to the compromise of its carrying capacity and groundwater recharge capacity. The report talks about the creation of an alternate drain to increase carrying capacity of Badshahpur drain, which needs new land to be acquired and we do not know how many years that might take.”

Rana further said that the report does not mention the Ghata Jheel, which is an existing pond of about 150 acres and an integral water body.

“The report says that over 950 acres of land will be revived as ponds and lakes, but it does not mention anything about the Ghata Jheel which is an interlinking water body of the Badshahpur drain. There are encroachments to a great extent on the lake, but still, over 150 acres of land which is part of the Jheel, can be restored even now. This only shows how a deep study has not been done before preparing the report,” said Rana.

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