After NGT directions, committee issue notices to hotels for using groundwater without permission - Hindustan Times
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After NGT directions, committee issue notices to hotels for using groundwater without permission

Jul 02, 2023 12:18 AM IST

In an order dated October 17, 2022, the tribunal stated that out of 1903 hotels in the nine cities, 1407 did not obtain No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to extract groundwater

A committee of officials, formed on the direction of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), has issued notices to 84 hotels operating in Ghaziabad for allegedly extracting groundwater without permission, officials said, adding that penalty notices ranging from 10 lakhs to 50 lakhs have been issued to the hotels found in violation of the regulations.

According to the 2022 groundwater assessment report by the Uttar Pradesh groundwater department, the situation in the four blocks of Loni, Rajapur, Bhojpur, and Ghaziabad city remains unchanged since the 2017 assessment. (PTI)
According to the 2022 groundwater assessment report by the Uttar Pradesh groundwater department, the situation in the four blocks of Loni, Rajapur, Bhojpur, and Ghaziabad city remains unchanged since the 2017 assessment. (PTI)

The directions came in response to a petition filed by Arti in 2018, highlighting the unauthorized withdrawal of groundwater by hotels in Ghaziabad. The tribunal took up the issue not only in Ghaziabad but also in other major cities of Uttar Pradesh.

The petitioner argued that the water level in all four blocks of Ghaziabad is rapidly depleting, with a faster decline observed in areas with hotels, marriage halls, and party lawns.

Following the tribunal’s directions on February 25, 2022, joint committees consisting of officials from the Central Ground Water Board, the state pollution control board, and the district magistrate were formed. These committees began inspecting nine cities in Uttar Pradesh.

In an order dated October 17, 2022, the tribunal stated that out of 1903 hotels in the nine cities, 1407 did not obtain No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to extract groundwater.

“The compensation deposited will be kept in separate accounts by the district magistrates for utilisation in accordance with the respective District Environment Plans within six months for improving water quantity and quality, restoring water bodies and taking other relevant measures in their respective districts,” the tribunal had said in its order.

The tribunal in its order has also directed that while granting consents, requirement of installing digital water metres connected to central servers may be laid down.

Hari Om, the executive engineer from the minor irrigation department and nodal officer for the district groundwater council, said that penalty notices had been issued to 84 hotels in Ghaziabad in June. “The fines ranged from 10 lakhs to 50 lakhs per instance and were imposed based on the NGT’s directions for the past five years. The penalty amount was calculated at 80 per 350 kiloliters of extracted groundwater per day per room in a hotel. Recovery proceedings can be initiated if the hotels fail to pay the fines,” he said.

The penalty for establishments with more than 100 rooms is 50 lakhs, 25 lakhs for establishments with 50-100 rooms, and 10 lakhs for establishments with up to 50 rooms. The report has been submitted to the tribunal, and compliance measures have been initiated.

According to the 2022 groundwater assessment report by the Uttar Pradesh groundwater department, the situation in the four blocks of Loni, Rajapur, Bhojpur, and Ghaziabad city remains unchanged since the 2017 assessment. These blocks are classified as ‘over-exploited,’ indicating that groundwater extraction exceeds the annual replenishable groundwater recharge. Muradnagar is categorized as ‘semi-critical,’ where the extraction stage ranges between 70% and 90%.

Sushil Raghav, a city-based environmentalist, expressed concern over the encroachment of water bodies such as ponds and the lack of enforcement to address this issue. “Preserving water bodies is crucial to avoid a potential water crisis in the future,” he said.

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