Green activists who had knocked the doors of National Green Tribunal (NGT) against industries over rampant extraction of water are dissatisfied with the NGT ruling of September 6, 2018 that has disposed of the matter after the green court described DM Ghaziabad’s affidavit as ‘being substantial compliant on issue of tightening screws on water extraction by industries’. Notably, in a final order passed on July 12, 2018 pursuant to similar interim order(s) previously, the NGT had asked the DMs of Ghaziabad and Hapur to seal all industrial borewells immediately and to file a compliance report in 4 weeks.
In earlier interim orders, the NGT had been ordering that all industrial borewells in Ghaziabad and Hapur be sealed due to being in a notified area (where water level has fallen to alarming levels). The NGT had further directed the CGWA to see whether NOCs can be given to some industries or not. Many of these industries are big water guzzling industries like Bisleri and it is only ironic that they exist in notified area of Ghaziabad (herein Sahibabad Industrial Area). This area had come about after UPSIDC acquired land from several villages and further allotted it to industries- in the process also swallowing several ponds & lakes (a separate case in NGT and an order was given on that in which the NGT had asked all ponds & lakes to be freed from encroachments).
The main petitioner Sushil Raghav said that DM Ghaziabad had submitted the affidavit citing various reasons of not being able to seal the borewells of over 682 industrial units that mostly use groundwater and the DM had called upon the CGWA to hand over the complete list of industries that extract water but while filing its compliance report/affidavit the DM had mentioned that CGWA had not handed over a complete list of such industries for with or without NOC. In fact, the DM Ghaziabad had mentioned in the affidavit that only 55 borewells of industrial units had been sealed after the CGWA furnished such a list. The DM had also submitted that since April 2018, 69 industrial borewells having no NOC were sealed.
But despite the DM affidavit that highlighted inefficient compliance, the NGT passed the order saying that compliance has been done and disposed of the petition. The order has come as a setback for efforts of these green activists who alleged that water extraction by these industries is continuing and there is no one to stop the industries now from violating norms, said Raghav.
According to Raghav, “Despite no compliance of the original order of July 2018 where NGT had asked that industrial borewells be sealed first, the NGT had now disposed of the matter without giving us a chance of putting across our views.” Raghav also pointed out that the affidavit of compliance by DM Ghaziabad cites dependence on CGWA and other departments for handing over list of water guzzling industries—a process that stands incomplete till the affidavit was filed, still the matter was disposed of by the NGT which is upsetting.
Raghav also said that when there is no data available of the factories operational in Ghaziabad using groundwater, with either the DM, CGWA or any other body, then such a judgment in itself is ominous as rampant water depletion may lead to catastrophic effect on the environment. He said that he would now move the Supreme Court against the order.
–Prasoon Pant, Editor, delhincrnews.in