DELHI: Like the Cyber City Gurgaon, the twin cities of Noida-Greater Noida are also facing huge water shortage after the National Green Tribunal banned extraction of groundwater for construction purposes.
Developers and builders of realty projects in Greater Noida West (Noida Extension) and Sectors like 94, 150, 151, 153, 128, 137, 142, etc, along the Noida-Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway have protested this order as this has seriously affected work on these projects.
The tribunal has also asked developers and builders with projects on 20,000 sq metres and above to take environment clearance for their projects from the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority. The court had directed that all current realty projects should stop operations immediately.
The ban came after an affidavit filed by the chairperson of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority. The tribunal had extended the ban on use of groundwater for construction in Noida and Greater Noida stating it was threatening the groundwater levels.
For flouting the order banning use of groundwater the tribunal has already issued show-cause notices to some of the major realty players asking them as to why they should not be punished. Builders of around 3,000 housing units stopped work in various sectors of Noida after the ban on drawing groundwater for construction purposes was imposed by the tribunal.
The tribunal said in its order that the underground water utilized for the purposes of construction hardly re-percolates into the earth as the area is a tree-free zone and the concrete base of the projects lead to water being largely wasted as it flows into drains. It added that the guidelines that have been notified by the Central Ground Water Authority have been violated with impunity by the builders.
But the developers and builders say that if the ban continues, they will have to bring water from other areas, which would add to the cost of construction. They said that they will have to pay extra for the water transported to the construction sites, which would be a big additional burden. The builders’ lobby has sent a budget to the Noida development authority on the cost escalation if water from Yamuna is treated and used for construction.
Raman, chairman and CEO of Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA), said: “We are trying to sort out the problem with the developers. There should not be any major scarcity of water for construction work as over 90 million litres are discharged daily from water recycling plants and sewage treatment plants. The developers and builders will be required to obtain NOCs from the Central Groundwater Board to have their project layout plans sanctioned.”
“After the ban on use of groundwater, both Noida and Greater Noida are supplying water through sewer treatment plant. For supplying treated water for construction purposes, we are charging Rs 5 per kilolitre,” Raman said.
Anil Sharma, president of Credai, NCR and CMD of Amrapali Group, says: “This is not enough. We have a target of delivering 10,000 apartments by this year end. We cannot afford to halt construction in the absence of groundwater. If water has to be purchased, it will push up prices and buyers will have to bear the burden. Imposing a blanket ban on extraction of groundwater is not a solution to stop its depletion.”
Manoj Gaur, managing director of Gaursons India Ltd, says: “We have plans to complete our current realty projects as early as possible. However, the recent ban on use of groundwater has becomes a major impediment in completing our projects on time. I believe pumping out groundwater is necessary for laying foundations of highrise buildings in the region as there is abundant groundwater due to the projects’ location — between the Yamuna and the Hindon. There are provisions for recharging groundwater.”
Experts say that Noida and Greater Noida are located on a fault zone, so the areas are more vulnerable to subsidence. Moreover, due to over-extraction in Noida and Greater Noida, the water table in adjacent areas of Delhi would also fall.
R K Arora, CMD of Supertech Ltd, says: “We have environment-friendly procedures for sub-soil water management during the construction of basements and foundations. We bring in professionals to carry out geological surveys and plan water-harvest pits to harvest water in the soil within and adjacent to our construction projects thus avoiding any wastage of water during the constructions of basements.”
Tarun Shienh, CMD, Premia Group, says: “We were getting water from Noida sewage plants located in Sectors 50 and 54 for our construction work; we have not extracted any groundwater at all. We are shocked at the National Green Tribunal’s order debarring the use of groundwater for construction. The decision will delay several real estate projects in the area due to non-availability of adequate water.”
Deepak Kapoor, director of Gulshan Homz, says, “We will have to buy a large quantity of water from other places. This means an addition of two costs – the water and the cost of transporting it. This will eventually trickle down to the consumer. We are working on an action plan to try and protect buyers as much as possible. We hope that there are no further protests by buyers on this issue as the increase in costs is inevitable.”
Ashok Gupta, managing director of Ajnara India Ltd, says: “This order is going to affect the sector majorly. First, the quality of water bought is not always good for construction; secondly, it is going to increase the cost of construction, and third, the supply is not adequate. Steps should be taken to recharge the water table and measures like recharge pits, water harvesting, and increase in green belt cover should be implemented. We are already implementing such measures in our projects, which can help in recharging the water table.”
Pankaj Kumar Jain, director of K World, says: “To counter groundwater shortage in the area, rainwater harvesting seems to be the only practical solution, which we have provided in our project. This is also in line with guidelines of the GDA (Ghaziabad Development Authority).”
Water crisis in Gurgaon
The ban by the Punjab and Haryana high court on commercial use of groundwater for realty projects has affected the development of realty projects in Gurgaon. In July 2012, the Punjab and Haryana high court directed the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) not to issue new licences to real estate developers in Gurgaon unless the developers give an undertaking that groundwater would not be used for construction work.
Following the high court order, the Haryana Town and Country Planning Department slapped show cause notices on 52 developers, who were allegedly extracting groundwater in violation of the HC directive.
“Currently we are using tankers from the STP that has been provided by Haryana government,” says Prashant Solomon, the managing director of Chintels India.
Haryana’s groundwater department points out that the water table has already sunk by nearly a metre during this season alone in Gurgaon. The annual rate of decline of the water table is four feet, according to the Central Ground Water Authority. Gurgaon extracts water from the Basai Canal, which in turn gets water from the Western Yamuna Canal.
A study says that developers and builders could save the scarce underground water by using the nearly 110 million gallons of sewage generated daily in Gurgaon, after treatment, for construction and tree plantation.