The entire city of Delhi is “over exploited” in terms of groundwater, the National Green Tribunal has said while directing the local authorities to state how they proposed to deal with the problem of declining water levels in the national capital.
The green panel, while castigating the authorities for failing to perform their statutory obligation to provide adequate water supply, has directed the Delhi government and the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) to come to it with the details in two weeks.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered the city government, CGWA and all the authorities concerned to file an affidavit in this regard.
It expressed concern over the fact that a large number of illegal and unauthorised borewells were being operated in the city and the authorities should take action them.
“It is conceded before us that the entire developed Delhi is over exploited area as far as water is concerned,” he said.
“Let a proper affidavit be filed by the respective authorities in relation to how they propose to regulate and ensure that the ground level of water in Delhi does not deplete at the present rate particularly when even the ground water is being polluted by the different sources,” the bench said.
As per the data available with the Central Groundwater Board under the Ministry of Water Resources, fresh groundwater was available at little below 33 feet in 1983. By 2011, this level had plummetted to 132 feet, registering the sharpest fall of almost 29 feet in the 2002-2011 period.
The groundwater table across Delhi’s 1,484 sq km has declined from between 6 and 66 feet. Only three patches, accounting for a measly 18 square km, have not registered any significant drop in the groundwater level.
The worst-hit areas are South Delhi and parts of Southwest Delhi covering over 264 sq km where the water table has dropped by about 70 feet over the last 10 years.
Irked over unauthorised and illegal borewells operating here, the NGT had directed Delhi Jal Board, CGWA, Delhi government and municipal corporations to set up committees which should seal industrial units extracting water illegally.
The tribunal was hearing petitions filed by the NGT Bar Association and Raj Hans Bansal opposing the illegal use of groundwater in Delhi.
(With inputs from PTI)