Noida Golf Course fined ₹25 lakh by NGT for illegally extracting groundwaterUpdated: Jun 22, 2020 00:09 IST
Noida: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped an interim fine of ₹25 lakh on the Noida Golf Course for allegedly illegally extracting groundwater through tube wells and using the same for horticulture purposes to meet its 500 kilo litres-per day (KLD) demand. The final assessment of total environmental damage is yet to be assessed, which is the reason the fine imposed by NGT is interim. The next date of hearing is in November.
An NGT bench, headed by NGT chairperson and Justice Adarsh Goyal, in a hearing through video conferencing on June 19, the order of which was available on Sunday, observed that the Noida Golf Course (NGC) situated at Sector 43 had been drawing groundwater through five different tube wells illegally and using it for the horticulture use (watering the grasses and plants, etc.).
Noida is one of those regions where water resources are scarce, with a groundwater depletion rate of around two metres per year. According to the district ground water department’s assessment last year, the average availability of water in Noida is 24 metres deep, while the availability at Sector 39, which is near the golf course, is 29.58 metres.
“We direct the Noida Golf Course, Noida, Gautam Budh Nagar to pay interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh which may be deposited with the CPCB within one month from today. The payment of compensation will be a condition for continued operation of the establishments. The said establishments are given liberty to present their viewpoint before the Committee and this Tribunal which will be duly considered while finalising the compensation and other directions,” said the bench in its interim order against a petition filed by Noida-based environmentalist Vikrant Tongad.
The tribunal stated that the groundwater has been over-exploited for commercial purposes despite Noida falling under the critical and semi-critical zone for water sources.
“This Tribunal has held that ground water cannot be used for playgrounds like cricket grounds, particularly in over-exploited, critical and semi-critical areas, which observation also applies to Golf Course. In view of depleting ground water, there is threat of irreversible damage to the acquifiers and salinity of the water. Moreover, it is leading to scarcity of drinking water, thereby depriving a section of the society from access to potable water which is already scarce,” the green court stated.
The officials at the golf club, however, asserted that while the club had been closed due to the lockdown, they are switching to alternate water resources.
“We have already stopped the use of groundwater by extraction, and currently are using treated water through the Noida authority. I am yet to see the NGT order for now,” said BS Dagar, manager, Noida Golf Course.
The Tribunal also observed that the quality of water conserved through rain water harvesting system in the golf course was also not up to the mark in terms of hardness. Its contents like Calcium, Arsenic, Copper, Lead, Chromium, Nickel, Iron and Manganese were also exceeding the BIS standards.
“In Noida Golf Course there are five tube wells for supplying ground water for drinking, domestic and horticulture purposes, in which two tube wells are dismantled and abandoned. In the rest three tube wells, two tube wells are operational and one is in maintenance. The water meters are not installed on the tube wells and log book is also not maintained for operation of tube wells. So the quantity of ground water withdrawal cannot be known,” the NGT order stated.
According to the petitioner, ground water exploitation is a key issue that’s not given enough attention.
“Gautam Budh Nagar is already water stressed and such irresponsible behaviour is making it worse. Examples have to be made so that issues like groundwater depletion are taken seriously,” said Tongad.