CGWA confirms groundwater contamination in the Aravallis

Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) in a report submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has confirmed that leachate from defunct Bandhwari municipal waste treatment plant is flowing into natural water recharge zones, thus, polluting the ground water in Aravallis.

Responding to the petition, the report stated that, “The averments under para 1 to 6 are matter of record and need no comment.” Also, it said, “The municipal bodies are being made parties to the matter. They will explain their stand to this Hon’ble Tribunal.”

The move comes after the green court instructed the CGWA to prepare a report after a city-based environmentalist filed a petition alleging that leachate from Bandhwari municipal waste treatment plant is flowing into natural water recharge zones and polluting the ground water.

HT had first reported how groundwater of south Delhi, Gurgaon and Faridabad may be at risk of fast getting polluted by leachate from Bandhwari waste treatment plant flowing into the Aravalli forest, polluting the aquifers around.

When the court of Justice Swatanter Kumar on Tuesday asked the state government to respond to the report, the government representative asked for more time to study the CGWA report before replying.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 17.

Though the CGWA submitted its report to the court, there was no one to represent the authority. It also requested the court to exempt the CGWA from appearing for the hearing.

The petition states in Para 1-6 that the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon and the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad are disposing of waste in the open, in an ecologically fragile, forested area of the Aravallis, which is polluting the groundwater and the forest area. It is also posing a serious health and life hazard to people in neighbouring cities of Delhi, Gurgaon and Faridabad by virtue of being at a higher elevation along the natural water drainage and groundwater recharge area. This destruction and dumping of waste is also destroying the wildlife in the area.

“The report substantiates our submission of the critical importance of the area in question as a vital water re-charge and conservation zone for Gurgaon, Faridabad and New Delhi,” said Vivek Kamboj, the petitioner.

However, it was also pointed out that, “The CGWA’s submission under para 8 are related to dumping of construction and industrial waste on the stretch of Delhi-Gurgaon and Delhi-Faridabad. It is submitted that the municipal solid waste management falls under the purview of the local municipal bodies as per the constitutional provisions.”

“We are surprised that while being aware of the “constitutional provisions” of the municipal authorities, the Central Groundwater Authority pretends to be ignorant of its own constitutional provisions and obligations. Does not dumping of construction, industrial, bio medical waste and toxic formation of leachate (in and around Bandhwari) contaminate groundwater and render the soil’s water absorption and percolation/re-charge capability useless?,” said Amit Chaudhery, another petitioner.

The petitioners also pointed that in the critical aspect of a water deficit Gurgaon, the CGWA should have been more proactive in monitoring, arresting, and preventing erosion and contamination of critical water tables.

The petition states that various laws have been violated by the government agencies. These include Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules (2000), Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules (2011), Bio-Medical Waste Handling Rules (1998), Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, and the Forest Act (2006).