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Realty boom bane of Noida water table?

The emergence of Noida and Greater Noida as real estate destinations has fuelled a surge in water guzzling construction activities in these cities. Experts say, on an average, a developer extracts 2 lakh litres of water a day. Vinod Rajput reports.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2012 02:19 IST
Vinod Rajput
Vinod Rajput
Hindustan Times

The real estate development in Noida and Greater Noida has led to a huge housing boom in the twin cities.

But there is a flip side: it has taken a heavy toll on the water table of the region.

Although the industrial townships are situated in a water-surplus region — Noida falls in the catchment area of the Yamuna river and lies close the Hindon river — mindless extraction of groundwater for construction work is causing irreparable damage to the water table.

According to Central Ground Water Authority data, Noida's water table is depleting at the rate of 70cm a year.

Experts say, on an average, a developer extracts 2 lakh litres of water a day. With more than 200 big-ticket projects coming up in Noida and Greater Noida, the impact is anybody's guess.

Members of Noida Greens, an NGO, which conducted a survey on groundwater depletion, found that developers, to lay foundation for high-rises, extract water and dump it into drains, as Noida's soil is loamy and moist.

In 2004, the water table of Gautam Budh Nagar district (consisting Noida and Greater Noida areas) was bracketed in the 'safe' category.

Later, in 2009, it slipped into 'semi-critical' zone.

At this rate, in the next three years, it will slip into the 'critical' zone, say experts of Jamia Millia engineering department.

No developers have taken no-objection certificates from the CGWA for de-watering plots. Builders say they would recycle this water. "No builder in the district has got the permission to dump groundwater into drains," said Vikrant Tongad of Noida Greens, an NGO.

"The district magistrate is responsible for preventing builders from exploiting groundwater," said VA Devpujari, the chief architect and town planner, Noida authority. District magistrate MKS Sundaram was unavailable for comments.

Industries fail to do their bit
Although Noida authority's building bylaw makes it mandatory for industrial units in the city to set up rainwater harvesting projects, only 76 out of 7,000 units have so far complied with the rule.

Environmentalists are up in arms as the authorities have done precious little to promote conservation of groundwater.

But the authorities are putting up a brave front. "We do not keep any record of how many people follow the rule. If a builder failed to adhere to the prescribed norms, we do not issue completion certificate to his building," said Devpujari.

According to Noida's building bylaws, a building with a built-up area of 100 sqm should have a water harvesting project. But the district headquarters building that has come up on an area of about 2, 000 sqm does not have a harvesting project.

"Noida's groundwater is dipping at an alarming level. In a matter of few years, it will be worse than in Gurgaon, where water table dips at the rate of 1.2m a year. With construction activity gaining momentum in Greater Noida — at present water table in the industrial township is going down by 20cm a year — water will be a scare resource in the region," said an official of Noida Greens.

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"Ground water conservation is almost zilch in Noida. We are all set to file a public interest litigation in national green tribunal (NGT) to save our natural resources because builders, industrialists and authorities are not concerned," said Vikrant Tongad of Noida Greens.

The UP government, on April 25, 2006, had ordered that all industrial/institutional /commercial/residential projects with a plot area of 300 sqm should set up rainwater harvesting projects.

Later, the state government revised its order and made it mandatory for all residential projects with 200sqm built-up area to establish harvesting pits.

Subsequently, to promote conservation, Noida and Greater Noida authorities further reduced the built-up area to 100sqm. But these agencies never enforced the rule.

First Published: Aug 27, 2012 00:46 IST