Expressing concern over extraction of groundwater, the National Green Tribunal has suggested use of treated sewage water by farmers for agricultural purposes instead of potable water.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said at a time when there is serious depletion of the water table there was a need to switch over to less water consuming crops.
"We do appreciate the difficulties of the agriculturists but the option of providing alternative of use of treated sewage water etc or switching over to less water consuming crops needs to be considered," the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said.
"Equally significant is the need for checking contamination of underground water by who are discharging untreated effluents in the earth or in water bodies.Comprehensive planning and execution thereof on the subject with utmost priority is necessary and absence thereof has led to emergency situation in certain areas," it said.
The tribunal was hearing petitions filed by the NGT Bar Association and Raj Hans Bansal opposing the illegal use of groundwater by industries in Delhi.
The NGT said the submission that industries are allowed to extract underground water in over exploited, critical and semi-critical areas after payment of charges is ridiculous and beyond comprehension.
It said in several orders, it noted the apathy of authorities in the last six years and it has no information about steps taken in compliance of earlier directions, except a statement that the Central Ground Water Authority is ill equipped.
"We hardly appreciate the stand that matter is 'under consideration' even after 22 years of a order of the Supreme Court and repeated directions of this tribunal in the last six years. Accordingly, we direct that whatever is 'under consideration' must be finalised at every level at the earliest but not later than four weeks.
"The mechanism may provide for mechanism of recovery of exemplary damages from violators and forthwith stoppage of illegal withdrawal of ground water and other remedial measures," the bench said.
The tribunal deferred the matter to December 18 and said,"Hearing is deferred with the hope and expectation that substantial steps are taken and any pending matter finalised and notified before that date and an affidavit of compliance filed.
"All other directions already issued may also be complied. We direct the Secretary, Department of Water Resources to remain present on the next date also," it said.
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