The National Green Tribunal (NGT) pulled up the Haryana government on Wednesday after the latter claimed that the Najafgarh lake was “not a lake but a low-lying area where rainwater and overflow from the Sahibi river collected”.
“What else is a lake,” asked the NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar.
The submission was made on a petition filed by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural heritage (INTACH) seeking orders to preserve the lake, believed to have been one of the largest water bodies in Delhi once.
INTACH has alleged that the large-scale construction work done in the floodplain of the Najafgarh nallah and the lake itself had drained the area.
The Haryana government — which has allowed the carving out of some sectors in the areas adjacent to the lake — claimed that there is no naturally occurring lake there, and only a “low-lying area” is left.
INTACH, through its counsel advocate Jayant Tripathi, submitted pictures showing that the water body still existed in the area, but recent construction would destroy it.
The photographs indicate a large number of aquatic plants in the “lake” area.
The bench has now directed officials from the Delhi government, the Haryana government and the Groundwater Authority of India to inspect the site on Saturday and file a report on Monday.
“If there is water in the non-rainy season, then it is a water body. If there is water, then preserve it,” observed the bench. The NGT has also indicated that it may instruct authorities to stop construction in the area if the water body is there.
“It’s a low-lying area that gets water…just prohibit construction and the water body will be revived,” observed the bench.
The NGT bench added that it will issue directions after the inspection report is filed on Monday.
INTACH has claimed that sectors 106, 107,108 of Gurgaon are being constructed in the “high flood level” area of the lake, while there is some construction going on in the Delhi side of the lake.