People who depend on borewells for drinking water and do not have alternative sources of supply, need to obtain permission from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), the National Green Tribunal has said. The NGT had last month directed the sealing of borewells run by industries, private individuals, builders or water- tanker suppliers in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad and Hapur districts within a week.
However, the green panel has now clarified that it did not intend to affect the lives of the local residents who depend on groundwater for survival and asked all domestic consumers to apply for permission, if they have not done till date.
“The directions in the order shall not mean or be construed as a direction to seal single domestic borewell if the family or group of families depend on it for their daily domestic consumption and are not having any alternative mode of supply of water through the Nagar Nigam or otherwise,” the bench said. A bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim said the authorised officer may intimate all domestic consumers of NGT directions to enable them to make request for permission.
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“If they have applied for grant of permission, in which event, action should not be taken against them for a period of at least two weeks during which period the CGWA shall consider their application and pass appropriate order. The list of such applicants be filed before the tribunal for directions,” the bench said.
It granted two weeks to CGWA for filing compliance report on the sealing of illegal borewells and asked it to adopt means such as disconnection of electricity for enforcement of its order.
Earlier, the NGT had directed CGWA to submit a detailed report on industries in Ghaziabad and Hapur districts after a plea alleged that incessant extraction of groundwater has resulted in depletion of the water table. The order came after CGWA told the green panel that the areas in question are “over-exploited” and no effective action has been taken in this regard till date.
NGT was hearing a plea by Ghaziabad resident Sushil Raghav and NGO Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity seeking closure of all industrial units extracting groundwater illegally in the notified areas of Ghaziabad and Hapur.