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To save water, HC holds back construction in India’s Millennium City

Jul 17, 2012

The High Court of Punjab and Haryana in an order, has restrained new construction activities in India’s National Capital Region (NCR) of Gurgaon. The court has asked Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) not to issue new licences for builders in Gurgaon, unless they ensure that no groundwater would be consumed for construction work.

New Delhi: The order was passed by a division bench comprising Chief Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain while hearing the petitions filed by Qutub Enclave Residents Welfare Association and others.

According to petitioners' lawyer, the court has not only debarred licences for new construction activities, but has also put on hold the renewal of old construction projects. The ongoing construction is also under scanner, the lawyer said.

Over the past 25 years, the city which has undergone rapid development and construction has now emerged as a financial and industrial centre of Haryana. Apparently, this rapid rate of urbanisation has been severely impacting the ground water and environment of the region.

According to an estimate, Gurgaon with a population of over 20 lakh, requires 200 million gallons per day (MGD) for its daily water consumption. Of this 50 MGD of groundwater is being illegally extracted for construction purposes by the builders, an exercise which has resulted in depletion of water table in the area.

While the petitioners and environmentalists have welcomed the verdict, builders say the decision will further slow down an already sluggish real estate market of Gurgaon. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) through its report released three months back, had warned that Gurgaon will soon be hit by the twin traumas of water scarcity and overflowing sewage. The report also highlighted that in 2006, almost 70 per cent of the city’s supply came from ground water and therefore the water level in the millennium city of Gurgaon fell to 51 metres.

In 2011, Gurgaon with over 30,000 tubewells, recorded extracting 70-230 million litres of water in a day. Going by this rate of extraction, the water table will decline by 1.2 metre every year, says the report. As per official estimates, in 2021, the NCR township with a projected population of 3.7 million will have a water demand of 666 MGD per day.

Gurgaon, a city famous for its glitzy malls and huge buildings was ranked 11th amongst Indian cities on the ‘Life after Work’ index of Business Today. But denizens of the same region today are suffering from issues of water scarcity.

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