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| Last Updated:06/02/2020

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Noida builders flout ban imposed by National Green Tribunal, extract groundwater

NOIDA: Several real estate developers in Noidacontinue to extract groundwater despite a blanket ban imposed on it by the National Green Tribunalas well as the Supreme Court. Developers have installed long pipelines to empty groundwater, which is extracted from their sites, at other locations. Environmentalists are up in arms against this blatant violation of norms and have blamed the Noida and Greater Noida authorities for allowing developers in getting away with this.

TOI visited sites of many developers in various sectors along the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway and Sector 94, near the Okhla bird sanctuary, and found the pipelines used for abstracting water. At some locations, pipes were buried beneath the earth so that the de-watering could not be seen. The pipelines are attached to heavy pumps to draw out groundwater. 

When the contractor and labourers in Sector 94 were asked the reason for installing the long pipelines and pumps, they said that they have been instructed to draw groundwater as soon as possible. "We have just been directed to work overtime and extract groundwater as soon as possible," said Ahmad, a labourer. 

Noida Authority officials chose to remain silent on the issue. "I know a few developers are extracting groundwater, but we cannot do anything about it," said a senior Authority official. 

Environmentalists say there are several projects along the floodplains where developers have dug up to 9 metres for making double basements for their high-rise projects. "It is impossible to dig a double basement or more without groundwater extraction. Developers, in connivance with the Noida and Greater Noida authorities, are making mockery of orders," said Nandita Dhar, an environmentalist. 

"A realtor extracts and throws away 2.5 crore litres of water every day to lay a building's foundation. Nobody bothers to follow the ban by the NGT. Besides realtors, illegal water packaging companies are also extracting groundwater. As per submission of a water packaging company to NGT, it extracts about 55,000 litres of groundwater every day. On an average, 100 companies in the district extract one crore litres of water. For a litre of mineral water, they waste 5 litres of groundwater," Dhar alleged. 

The green brigade has also alleged that, under pressure from the strong builders' lobby, the 
UP government punished an administrative official for cracking down on groundwater extraction. The official had sealed a construction site on June 10 along the Yamuna Expressway for violating the NGT order. On June 17, he took action against another prominent builder in Greater Noida. On June 19, in Sector 94 he again pulled up a Noida-based realtor for letting groundwater go down the drains. 

"The developers are not allowing us to check if they are extracting groundwater so that we can bring the real picture before the apex court and the NGT. When we visited the sites of some developers, the staff misbehaved with us. We will put forth out concerns before the NGT and Supreme Court in the next hearings on August 22 and September 2, respectively," said Vikrant Tongad, another environmentalist.

The Times of India (19-08-2013)