NGT imposes Rs 25 lakh fine on two units in Noida for threat of irreversible damage to environment

In view of depleting groundwater, there is a threat of irreversible damage to the environment leading to scarcity of drinking water, the National Green Tribunal has said while slapping Rs 25 lakh on two units in Noida for unauthorised extraction of water.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel noted that there is no operative non objection certificate (NOC) as far as Noida Golf Course and Advant Navis Business Park are concerned.

Noida Golf Course and Advant Navis Business Park have to pay an interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh, which may be deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within one month, the tribunal said.

The green panel was perusing a report filed by a committee of the CPCB and Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, which said that groundwater is being illegally drawn and the allegation that misuse of groundwater for horticulture purpose is taking place is not disputed.

It is not clear whether conditions of NOC are being complied with, the NGT said.

The tribunal referred to its previous directions that groundwater cannot be used for a playground like cricket ground, particularly in over-exploited, critical and semi-critical area, which also applies to Golf Course.

“In view of depleting groundwater, there is a threat of irreversible damage to the acquifiers and salinity of the water. Moreover, it is leading to scarcity of drinking water, thereby depriving a section of the society from access to potable water which is already scarce. The rainwater harvesting systems have to be regularly maintained as per norms,” the bench said.

The NGT said that the state pollution control board has failed to assess and recover compensation for illegal drawal of groundwater.

“The assessment of quantity of water drawn needs to be made realistically and adverse inference has to be drawn for absence of water meter…

“Water audit may be conducted to ascertain the extent of use and replenishment of groundwater in the last three years by the same Committee with an additional representative of CPCB and Indian Institute of Technology- Delhi,” the bench said.

The Committee may also assess compensation to be paid and may also look into the water quality aspects of the rainwater harvesting systems and suggest remedial measures as may be found necessary, the tribunal said.

The NGT had earlier directed a committee to submit a report on a plea alleging illegal extraction of groundwater by the Noida Golf Course without requisite permission from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).

The tribunal’s order came on a plea filed by environment activist Vikrant Tongad alleging illegal extraction of groundwater without requisite permission by the Noida Golf Course in Sector 43 in Gautam Buddh Nagar.

Despite the availability of treated STP water, Golf Course at Noida continues to extract groundwater without a valid no objection certificate from the CGWA, the plea had stated, seeking action against the violator.

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