Can NGT's new order stop this disaster waiting to happen?
Can NGT's new order stop this disaster waiting to happen?
Abid Hussain Barlaskar
Can NGT's new order stop this disaster waiting to happen?
Photo: Teachers.egfi-k12.org
Can NGT's new order stop this disaster waiting to happen?

In a major pro-environment decision, National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), to seal all bore wells and illegal groundwater extraction in Ghaziabad. NGT had earlier ordered all industries to cease the unchecked extraction of groundwater through illegal bore wells. The issue had once again been raised by Sushil Raghav and Aakash Vaishistha, environmental activists from Ghaziabad, citing that it is not only industries but also private entities such as builders and water suppliers that exploit this natural resource.

The new order reads, “Apart from the industries who are brought into the mischief of our order, we further direct extraction of ground water by, private individuals, any person or builders without permission or having valid permission, shall face the same consequences and CGWA shall seal all their borewells.”

NGT has also ordered CGWA to re-verify all the existing NOCs. 

Apart from industries and illegal water suppliers, the new order is set to hit the expansive residential societies and high rises in the district, which largely rely on groundwater from multiple bore-wells to fulfil their daily requirements. Alok Kumar, patron of Federation of AOAs, told City Spidey that almost 90 per cent of the residential societies rely completely on groundwater, while the rest of it comes from public water supply. Kumar further said a singe flat requires about 1,000 to 1,500 litres of water a day, which means that a single society extracts several lakhs of litres of water every day without keeping a check on it. “Proper application of the order will cause immediate scarcity of water in societies as they do not have any other dependable source of water supply,” Kumar added.

On being asked about the legality of bore wells in residential societies, Kumar said these were originally installed by the builder after receiving temporary permissions from the authorities and we're supposed to be stopped once the society was taken over by residents associations. “We have to carry on with the wells as there isn't an alternative,” Kumar further said.

Speaking to City Spidey, Colonel TP Tyagi, chairman of RWA federation of Ghaziabad, said the management of most residential societies were aware that such extraction was illegal but had no other option for water. “We had proposed to the authorities to at least instal water meters in the residential towers. That would have at least ensured that residents get to know how much water they are wasting or using daily,” Tyagi added.

Colonel Tyagi, who happens to be a retired civil engineer from the Indian Army, further explains that such extraction has even more dangerous after-effects and could cause mishaps of catastrophic scale. "Most of these societies are located on the flood plains of river Hindon and are constructed on raft foundations which means that the foundations do not reach the hard bedrock. The unchecked extraction of groundwater will further loosen the soft sandy soil of the river’s plains which will in turn cause major mishaps. The ground water extraction be it industrial, commercial of residential, should be checked immediately before it gets too late,” Tyagi added.

Speaking to City Spidey, Sushil Raghav, the petitioner and an environmental activist, said the water levels in areas with high density of population have gone as low as 180 ft and is rapidly decreasing every day. “It is not only residential societies, but also some water-intensive industries that are running without NOCs. According to our findings, only 21 institutions in all of Ghaziabad and Hapur have proper NOCs, while most entities such as builders and residential societies do not. We hope the order is implemented properly,” added Raghav.