The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on March 18 has directed the DM Ghaziabad and UP Pollution Control Board to furnish a report in one month, on alleged encroachment of Ghaziabad water bodies on a petition by Sushil Raghav. In his complaint Raghav has alleged that as per government records at least 334 ponds have been encroached upon—in many cases by the government departments themselves.
Raghav had previously filed a petition with the green tribunal however his petition was disposed of by the NGT but not before granting him the liberty to approach the court in particular cases of encroachment in Ghaziabad district.
Raghav said that several state government departments such as Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC), GDA, UP Avas Vikas among others have encroached upon the water bodies and have built their projects on them, be it industrial, commercial or residential. He said that due to disappearance of these water bodies, a whole system of natural water recharge of groundwater had been destroyed threatening the very ecology of Ghaziabad, as Ghaziabad city falls in the ‘notified’ category of the Central Ground Water Authority while the other parts of the district have also seen an alarming fall in the water table.
In his petition Raghav has pointed out to a Supreme Court order in the matter of Hinch Lal Tiwari v Kamala Devi and Others (2001) where the SC held that ponds and lakes need to be protected for a proper and healthy environment that is guaranteed to citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution and had directed the DM/revenue authorities to restore such water bodies.
Over the years more than 1,000 small ponds and lakes in Ghaziabad have disappeared due to official apathy as the government servants have been loath to prevent encroachments on such ponds.
The case will be next heard in the NGT on May 27.
-By Prasoon Pant