Ghaziabad falls in notified area with regard to underground water where the water table is going down at an alarming rate due to rampant extraction of groundwater by all kinds of populace—the industry, builders and the domestic consumers. However, after the National Green Tribunal commonly known as NGT order of April 2017 on a petition filed by Sushil Raghav, a Ghaziabad resident & a green activist and SPENBIO, an NGO, the NGT asked for sealing of all borewells in Ghaziabad and Hapur and subsequently asked the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) to have a relook at granting of NOCs for borewells. In other words the CGWA was given the power to decide whom to grant NOC for starting a borewell.
However, considering that negligible or no attention is paid to water mafia in the region (Ghaziabad & Hapur) and with CGWA also working through the district administration—to carry out monitoring & enforcement—in all practicality, the use of borewells for indiscriminate groundwater extraction is going unpunished. Even in residential areas in Ghaziabad borewells are a common sight and their misuse is not uncommon. The Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam is mostly focused on providing clean water to a huge section of population that is rising by the day. Notably then, the onus lies on the district administration under the aegis of the DM to monitor any misuse of water.
However, Sushil Raghav, the original petitioner of NGT has alleged that CGWA has granted permission to a number of industries in Ghaziabad & Hapur–21 in number—as mentioned in their affidavit for water extraction through borewells. He has alleged that being water intensive these industries are using millions of litres of water every month and in the light of these facts the NOCs should not have been given in the first place.
According to Raghav, the CGWA while granting NOCs, has laid down a condition for the industries to compensate for the water usage to a degree, but how it will be done has not been spelt out. He alleged that this points out to collusion between the industry and the CGWA so that they can keep doing what they are best at—that is extracting water in a notified area. The granting of NOCs to these industries makes a mockery of the court order, he said.
Over the years Ghaziabad’s population has risen and high-rises have come up in many pockets leading to further depletion of the water table. Scarce rainfall over NCR and over dependence on Ganga water—especially in trans-Hindon colonies like Indirapuram, Vaishali, Vasundhara, Brij Vihar, Surya Nagar among others has led to indiscriminate use of submersible pumps by domestic users also.
However, Regional Director of CGWA, YB Kaushik countered Raghav’s claims and on question of grating NOCs to industry in notified areas, categorically said ‘that CGWA cannot shut down pre-existing industries.” He said that the CGWA notification has been in existence since 1998 and industries (pre-existing) that have come up before this have been granted NOCs for water extraction. “NOCs of all industrial units that have come after the year 1998 have been put on hold,” Kaushik pointed out.
However, Sushil Raghav claims that CGWA is not giving the correct picture. He said: “Several industries like Magnum are not pre-existing and did not exist at the time of Ghaziabad becoming a notified area in 1998. Then how can CGWA say so?”
Raghav said he would pursue the matter further to seek information regarding how much compensation (water recharging) has been done by the industries that were granted NOCs many months back, as stipulated by the CGWA.
Some well-known industries such as Bhushan Steel, Crossings Infrastructure, Emmar-MGF, Ansal API, Magnum Ventures, Dabur India Ltd, Merino Industries, among others have been granted NOCs previously by the CGWA. However, Raghav alleged that address of a few of these industries has been wrongly given that is questionable.
On CGWA guideline of compensating for water extraction Kaushik said that the rule is that industrial units in Sahibabad area—that have a predominance of saline water will have to compensate for 50% of water extracted by them while for industrial units located towards Ghaziabad side—with non-saline water quality—will have to compensate up to 200% of water volume extracted by them.
Bur Raghav countered Kaushik’s claim and said “that while granting NOC there is no condition of salinity involved. How could CGWA say that Sahibabad water is saline. If they have examined the water quality of the region then where is the report.”
Raghav averred, “Although CGWA is granting NOCs the compliance is being seen by UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) that is a bizarre situation.” But Kaushik pointed out that CGWA, by dint of being the NOC granting authority, is responsible for compliance also.
However, Kaushik was not sure about how the water extraction could be monitored. Raghav precisely pointed out to this and said: “The condition of compensation for water extraction will be met in what way should be explained by the CGWA; in the absence of which it is difficult to trust their motives.”
Clearly, Sushil Raghav has a point here. Because, in absence of any monitoring—leave enforcement, water extraction in Ghaziabad and Hapur will continue to take place indiscriminately with the result that water table will go further down. This could have dangerous repercussions for a populace that has made Ghaziabad its home.
–Prasoon Pant, Editor, delhincrnews.in
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