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Bandhwari: An example of how to kill a forest and deplete groundwater resources

Gurugram: Market analysts cite that it is a location that makes a piece of land the real estate. It is however the location for Bandhwari village that is proving to be a major curse. Nestled in the Aravalis, the village is at the centre point of Gurugram, Delhi and Faridabad. It is this aspect that is now being exploited by the land mafia. Recently the public agencies busted over 10 illegal farmhouses being built around the area.

Moreover, in a city that is facing an extreme crisis of water, it was also found that the groundwater was being tapped by illegal borewells. At a time when the city is looking towards its greenbelt in order to enhance its falling groundwater reserves, Bandhwari is one of the examples why the city is fast losing its precious resources of water.

Gurugram is facing an extreme crisis of depletion of groundwater reserves. According to reports, the levels of groundwater are plummeting by a metre every year in Gurugram. Most of the pits dug up in Aravallis for meeting drinking water requirements for the wild animals are being filled by officials through pipeline water. However, most of the pits are not being recharged fully as the Gurugram forest officials are not being able to meet the capacity to fill the pits.

Not only is Bandhwari facing with the crisis of illegal encroachments and sucking out from its ground level through illegitimate means but there is also a threat of cancer for the residents. Large amounts of garbage are being dumped daily at the landfill site from Gurugram as well as Faridabad. Over 90 trucks come daily to dump the garbage. Commissioned in 2008, Bandhwari landfill nestled in the green belt of Aravallis site was created with an objective of segregation and recycling of waste generated from Gurgaon as well as Faridabad.

A major reason cited for a large number of people contracting the disease is the poisonous leachate due to mounds of garbage piling at the site for five years. On the directions of National Green Tribunal, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had conducted the sample test of underground water in Bandhwari in September last year. The results proved to be a shocking revelation of how the water that was consumed could make any person extremely sick. Poisonous substances that included chlorides, nitrites manganese and calcium were way above than even the unhealthy levels.

The presence of lead and mercury that are the main causes behind cancer was also found in large amounts. Taking cognisance of the major health challenge caused by the extremely contaminated underground water, the Haryana government is building a leachate treatment plant. However, reservations have been expressed by the villagers and the environmentalists over the project improving the situation.

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