155 waterbodies across Capital encroached upon, panel tells NGT

Says authorities will be given nine months to clear the encroachments

February 22, 2019 01:40 am | Updated 01:40 am IST - NEW DELHI

A committee, headed by a former Delhi High Court Judge has informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that approximately 155 waterbodies have been identified across the national Capital that have been encroached upon.

The committee, which had been constituted by the NGT to monitor the groundwater situation in the Capital, said the waterbodies are under the jurisdiction of the State government and the Delhi Development Authority.

The green panel was also informed that the authorities will be given nine months to clear the encroachments from the waterbodies.

The committee, comprising representatives from the Delhi Jal Board, Central Pollution Control Board and Central Ground Water Authority, has suggested that of the 155 waterbodies, 51 may be identified for removing encroachments in the first phase.

Following the suggestions put forth by the committee, a Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said, “As regards the timeline of nine months, the committee may consider whether shorter time limit can be fixed for some of the identified waterbodies where encroachment was negligible, for 51 waterbodies to be taken up in first phase.”

“The committee also considered the issue of recycling of water for which revised guidelines had been issued. The NITI Aayog had warned against over-exploitation of groundwater. Unless it is checked, the groundwater may be exhausted by 2020, as in more than 15% of the Delhi areas the groundwater is below 40 metres,” the Bench observed.

Additionally, the committee noted the Tribunal’s direction to levy a compensation of ₹5 lakh on schools and colleges that do not have functional rainwater harvesting systems.

The Delhi Development Authority has also been directed to ensure that the waterbodies are maintained and that no domestic sewage or industrial effluent is permitted to flow into them.

Pilferage and leakages

“The authorities would be directed to plug pilferage and leakages. Presently, 40% water is lost before being supplied. Comprehensive plan will be chalked out to prevent illegal use of groundwater by industries and big institutions, resorts, hotels and motels in Delhi,” the committee said in its report.

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