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Use of groundwater for construction work in commercial, residential buildings

Despite ban, units flout HC order

JALANDHAR: In the danger zone as far groundwater goes, the city of Jalandhar is bogged down by various extremes when it comes to water conservation.



Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 2

In the danger zone as far groundwater goes, the city of Jalandhar is bogged down by various extremes when it comes to water conservation.

While various units incessantly go on using groundwater for construction purposes despite a ban, rainwater harvesting projects are also falling prey to administration’s apathy.

While every commercial and residential unit over a kanal area needs to have a rainwater harvesting unit, the construction of these, once started enthusiastically, is now an area which is being given scant regard.

Barring a few, a majority of the construction commercial and residential units over 1 kanal in the district are not constructing nay rainwater harvesting units on their premises.

As per the HC guidelines, a ban on the use of groundwater for construction purposes had been issued in 2012, but even as many units continue using freshwater or groundwater for these purposes, no action is being initiated against violators.

The Integrated Watershed Management Project, under which two rainwater harvesting units were constructed in the district at Government Senior Secondary School Malsian and another at Bajuha Khurd village,has also fallen prey to the administration’s apathy as no new funds are arriving under the project.

Avtar Singh, District Soil and Water Conservation Officer, said, “What can we do when we are not receiving money for the ICWP project in the district. While it was started on a 90 to 10 per cent (Government of India to State Government) fund contribution ratio, so far only 6 per cent of the funds from the Government of India have arrived. The Central Government’s share of money did not arrive for three years. We had lots of modules like renovation, plantation, among others planned for the project but unless funds arrive, we are not in a position to upgrade the efforts nor start any additional rainwater conservation units.”

Speaking on the independent water conservation efforts by his department, he said, “There, too, government cooperation is needed. We are spreading awareness among farmers. Unless paddy cultivation is officially banned, we can’t rescue the depleting groundwater levels of the district. We can only spread awareness among farmers that this is wrong,” he added.

Speaking on the action against units using groundwater for construction purposes, Sandeeep Bahl, Senior Environmental Engineer, PPCB, said “We are ensuring that people are not making use of groundwater and that they use dual plumbing systems for construction. The NOCs are being provided only to units which are not violating any norms. Defaulters are being acted against by the PPCB.”

While some of the industries are also dumping their effluents discreetly into bores made in the rainwater harvesting pits, Bahl said such elements are also being strictly tackled. “Strict action is being initiated against industries illegally dumping wastes. We have recently acted against industries indulging in such violations and will continue to do so if more are found.”

Town Planner (STP), MC, Shakti Bhatia, said, “Despite guidelines, a majority of the units are failing to put up rainwater harvesting units. While we are ensuring compliance among over 500 square yard commercial units, unfortunately residential units are non-compliant. The MC can’t act against all the units alone. The sewerage and water supply department also has to ensure compliance. We are planning to propose stricter measures to act against violators.”

He added that in building construction works as well, the use of groundwater was rampant. “The water supply department also needs to work with the MC to act against those indulging in such violations.”

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