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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

1,000 ponds in Noida and Greater Noida to be profiled for rejuvenation

According to a recent revenue record report forwarded by the district administration, Gautam Budh Nagar is among the 255 water-stressed districts in India.

noida Updated: Jul 22, 2019 15:45 IST
Kushagra Dixit
Kushagra Dixit
Hindustan Times, Noida
Of the 474 ponds in Dadri, at least 150 have been encroached upon and converted into illegal residential colonies.
Of the 474 ponds in Dadri, at least 150 have been encroached upon and converted into illegal residential colonies.(HT Photo)
         

To ensure that ponds and other water bodies are not illegally encroached upon or destroyed in the future, the Gautam Budh Nagar district administration, which had set a target of rejuvenating 1,000 ponds across the district, has started profiling them.

Of the 1,000 ponds being profiled, 474 ponds are in Dadri, 281 in Jewar, and 245 in Sadar, that cover parts of Greater Noida, Noida, Dankaur and Bisrakh.

These ponds make up a total area of 4.5 square kilometres (448.418 hectares). Of the 474 ponds in Dadri, at least 150 have been encroached upon and converted into illegal residential colonies, said, officials.

Officials added that of the rest of the ponds in the three regions, some have been levelled, some have been used for road or railway construction, while some are disputed or encroached upon for building religious places, or are being used to dump garbage.

However, city-based environmentalists working on the rejuvenation of water bodies allege that the ground reality is different and at least 60% of the ponds listed in the revenue department’s records have either been encroached upon or are being used as dump yards, even by local authorities.

According to a recent revenue record report forwarded by the district administration, Gautam Budh Nagar is among the 255 water-stressed districts in India.

Officials said they are now working on profiling the condition of each pond and water body to ascertain its current state and develop a database to protect it.

Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate BN Singh said the administration is working on removing encroachments from the ponds and other water bodies in a steady and careful manner, and that the process might take some time.

“The process of profiling has started and ponds are being inspected. There are encroachments, and illegal residences have been built over them. We have to move steadily and very carefully in order to remove them, which will take some time. We have also taken up the difficult task of rejuvenating the rest of the ponds, which are not encroached upon but require attention,” Singh said.

He said the administration is working to bring in transparency and is putting the database in the public domain to stop any future encroachments.

The administration, officials said, is also working on gathering resources and funds to rejuvenate the ponds. For this, private companies are being roped in to adopt some of the ponds under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.

Apart from this, the Noida and Greater Noida authorities will also be told to invest in rejuvenation from their budget as well as from the district mining funds. “To rejuvenate most of the ponds in rural areas, we have planned to involve people through MNREGA. Some industries have been asked to help, of which HCL technology has adopted 21 ponds and is investing about Rs 8 crore, while additional resources will be taken from the district mining fund,” said the district magistrate.

According to Noida-based environmentalist Ramveer Tanwar, most ponds and water bodies in the district are either encroached upon or are being used for dumping sewage or municipal solid waste.

“At some places, the ponds have been encroached upon by the local administrations themselves. For instance, the pond in Bilaspur is being used by the development authority for dumping municipal solid waste. Another pond in Tugalpur was encroached upon 10 years ago and a college has been built there. A pond near Surajpur is being used as a garbage dumping yard. However, if you check revenue records, nothing of the sort would be mentioned, apart from some old encroachments,” he alleged.

In one such case, a 1,140 square metre pond in Dadri was used to build the municipality office, as is mentioned in the revenue record.

To this, the district magistrate said: “There might be some mistakes we made as well — the aim of this profiling is to undo those mistakes and ensure that such issues are not repeated in the future and that the water bodies are rejuvenated.”

The administration’s move to rejuvenate the ponds has come due to the mandate of the Jal Shakti Abhiyan, which aims at conserving water bodies and harvesting rainwater to boost groundwater recharge.

According to the district groundwater department’s report, groundwater levels in the district are dropping at an alarming rate of 1.8 metres annually, while in some areas the situation is much worse, with an annual drop of 3.9 metres.

In Sadar, which has the least number of ponds in the district, the condition of the water bodies is yet to be assessed. Groundwater levels in Bisrakh had been listed as “overexploited”, with a drawing rate of 149%, while Dankaur falls under the “critical” category with a drawing rate of 99.84%, as of 2019.

Dadri falls under “semi-critical” category with an annual extraction rate of 84.50%, while aquifers at Jewar are overexploited with an annual extraction rate of 108.81%, according to the groundwater department.