NGT cracks whip on builders

Following the reports of groundwater extraction on regular basis by the real estate developers and builders, a clear violation of its previous order, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday constituted three committees to conduct surprise inspection at construction sites in Delhi-NCR.

The court, coming down heavily over local authorities, has directed to enforce the order strictly. Notably, the NGT had earlier appointed local commissioners and directed them to make surprise inspections of different construction projects in Delhi-NCR and report if groundwater was being used.

“It’s shocking that despite court’s direction to check extraction and use of groundwater in construction activities, no action is being taken against the violators. Now, the court has asked authorities to check irregularities as the builder mafias have been extracting water fearlessly. There is a close nexus between builders and authorities due to which violation of the court’s order is taking place,” said Vikrant Tongad, a Noida based environmental activist and petitioner of the case.

A Bench headed by Justice U D Salvi constituted different teams to carry out “expeditious and effective” inspections of major construction projects in Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Faridabad, etc. “The inspecting teams shall be headed by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) which shall constitute three teams of one senior officer drawn from each of the respective authority ie CGWA, Central Pollution Control Board, state pollution control boards of UP, Delhi and Haryana, Noida Authority, Greater Noida Authority, Haryana Urban Development Authority and Yamuna Expressway Development Authority,” the Bench said.

During the hearing, the Tribunal slammed the authorities for their failure to stop groundwater extraction and issued bailable warrants against “Managing Director/Managing Partner” of Panchsheel Greens-II in Greater Noida West, Kbnows Nirman Limited and Era Infra Engineers Ltd for not appearing despite notices being issued to them. “As violation of court’s order was unearthed, authorities must take it seriously. Now they should come out from their ‘inaction mode’ and initiate action against violators,” said Tongad.

The Tribunal made it clear that the committee has to submit its report on three aspects, whether there is any mechanism or equipment for extraction of groundwater on the construction sites, what is the source of water for construction and the actual quantum of water required. “In its report, the committee has to state how much water is supplied by the Noida Authority through the sewage treatment plants (STPs) to all the builders and if the source of water is tanker who is the supplier along with the proof,” the Bench said.
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