Noting that groundwater extraction had led to severe depletion in the water table,the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday tasked an inter-governmental committee with forming a plan to fix meters and charge for extracting groundwater in the capital.
Responding to its own counsels application that lakhs of unauthorised tubewells are encroaching on the capitals groundwater supply,the NGT appointed a committee to figure out how to affix meters and a charge for consumption.
Justice Swatanter Kumar said extraction has depleted the water table by hundreds of feet. For this,no consumer is paying any money. This becomes an incentive for illegal and unauthorised use of groundwater, Justice Kumar said.
Groundwater exploitation is an old problem in the Capital because there is a lack of governance and limited access to the resource. Some fear that groundwater is no longer a reliable source due to contamination.
Delhi Jal Board CEO Debashree Mukherjee told Justice Kumar that the DJB has not had the power to charge people for using groundwater,but agreed that extrication is a major concern.
Mukherjee drew attention to the DJBs new campaign in South Delhi,the driest area,to identify sites that could benefit the most from rainwater harvesting and help replenish the water table.
Justice Kumar ordered that top officials from several agencies including the DJB,Central Ground Water Authority,Revenue department and Department of Environment meet to devise a complete package enveloping plans for the capital before the next hearing on October 4.
He said the master plan should come up with a way to survey the entire area,identifying every tubewell,noting whether it is authorised or not.
Counsel for the DJB had presented a report in response to Kumars last order that claimed that the DJB is only aware of about 1,000 tubewells 806 of which are authorised,often for consumers who dont have access to regular supply,and about 204 that are unauthorised.
However,Kumar scoffed at the report,saying there are at least 4.5 lakh tubewells in South Delhi alone and that the DJB report seems to be mere imagination.