The Supreme Court today came down heavily on the Centre, the Delhi government and their civic bodies for not taking any step to tackle the “serious problem” of groundwater depletion in the national capital. The apex court perused a NITI Aayog report which said that various authorities were passing the buck and shying away from their responsibility.
“You are doing nothing to reduce water consumption, there is no plan for recharge and preservation of groundwater,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said. It asked the Centre for immediate, intermediary and long-term measures to check the depletion of Delhi’s groundwater.
The apex court had on May 8 expressed grave concern on “over-exploitation” of groundwater in most parts of Delhi and asked the authorities to avert a crisis, saying the situation was “semi-critical”.
It had then perused a report filed by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) on the status of groundwater level in Delhi from May 2000 till May 2017 and said it indicated an “extremely sad state of affairs” and the situation was serious.
The issue of depletion of groundwater had cropped up when the court was hearing a matter relating to the sealing of unauthorised constructions in Delhi. The top court is dealing with the issue relating to the validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations which protect unauthorised construction from being sealed.
The court had earlier asked the secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, the Delhi Government and Delhi Pollution Control Committee to inform it about the “possible solutions” to this situation.
The CGWB, in its report, had said there were some pockets in Delhi where the change in ground water level was not significant or had remained unchanged and such pockets of shallow and rising water level areas have diminished over the period.
The court had expressed concern over the fact that even in areas where the President’s Estate was located, the ground water level has depleted over the years.