Environment: SC worried over groundwater depletion, seeks action plan from Centre, Delhi

July 11, 2018
New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the Central and Delhi governments and the capital’s civic agencies for blaming each other but doing nothing to reduce water consumption and preservation of groundwater, and sought action plan to check its depletion.

A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta said that groundwater depletion is a serious problem here and asked the Centre for immediate, intermediate and long-term measures to check its depletion.

The bench took into note a NITI Aayog report which said that various authorities were passing the buck and shying away from their responsibility.

The report said there was over-exploitation of groundwater in several cities, especially Delhi, said the court, adding there would be no groundwater in Delhi by 2021 which means that “people cannot survive” here.

“The person who is responsible, says I am not responsible for this. Everybody has to be blamed in this country, except the person in-charge,” said the bench which was upset with authorities for passing the buck to each other and not doing anything on groundwater depletion.

It observed: “Have you seen the NITI Aayog report? It says that there will be no ground water in Delhi. There is pollution. Perhaps you will shift the capital. From where will groundwater come. Muhammad bin Tughluq was smart and 400 years ago, he had shifted the capital from Delhi.”

The bench said the suggestion given by the Ministry of Water Resources are nothing but an essay which anybody, even a schoolchild, can give.

“Anybody walking on the street can tell all this. We do not want an expert to say these things. You ask a schoolchild to write an essay on water problem in Delhi and the child will give all these suggestions. These are the kind of experts we have… that is why we are facing so many problems.”

Upset that authorities were not realising the seriousness of the situation, the bench had earlier said the critical decline in groundwater level in Delhi could lead to a “water war” for every drop.

The Central Ground Water Board had told the court that groundwater here was “over-exploited” and the level had declined to “very critical” stage.

Due to excess extraction of groundwater, almost 90 per cent of Delhi is in a “critical” situation, its report had said.

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