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National Green Tribunal says the entire city of Delhi is “overexploited” in terms of groundwater

The entire city of Delhi is “overexploited” in terms of groundwater, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said while asking the local authorities to state how they proposed to deal with the problem of declining water levels in the Capital.

Castigating the authorities for failing to perform their statutory obligation to provide adequate water supply, the green panel 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, the 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 against them.

“It is conceded before us that the entire developed Delhi is an over-exploited area as far as water is concerned. Once it is an overexploited area, then there has to be proper regulation for extraction of ground water and the CGWA, the NCT of Delhi and local authorities should take action for ensuring that appropriate level of the ground water are maintained,” 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 plummeted 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.


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