Delhi in an alarming situation to reach virtually zero groundwater level by 2020, the Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the Centre and Delhi government for not taking steps and asked them to file response on how to ward off the crisis.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta took note of a Niti Aayog report projecting a disturbing picture that no groundwater would be available in Delhi and 21 other major cities by 2020 and asked the authorities concerned to pull up their socks to deal with the impending emergency.
As per the report, nearly half of India’s population could end up with no access to drinking water by 2030. But the water crisis could be worse for some of biggest metros Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru which will run out of groun dwater as early as 2020, according to the ‘Composite Water Management Index’ (CWMI) report by Niti Aayog.
Central Ground Water Board also projected a very dismal picture and told the apex court that groundwater in the capital has been continuously depleting in the last two decades and now 90 percent of the city has come under ‘critical’ condition.
In a comprehensive report filed in the court, the Board said the water level had been decreasing from 0.5 meter to more than 2 meters per year at different places in Delhi and could lead to a crisis if it is not stalled in the near future.
Compiling the data on groundwater level from 2000 onwards, the Board in its report said water level at all of its 20 monitoring stations witnessed steady decline and areas around Chhatarpur, Dwarka and President’s Estate were the worst hit.
It placed almost entire Delhi on ‘semi-critical’ or ‘critical’ zones except a few pockets of West and Central Delhi which have been declared safe as per the 2005-10 data.
Referring to the reports, the bench said government authorities could not ignore the findings and had to act fast as only one and half years are left to avert the catastrophe.
The court expressed anguish over the recommendations made by ministry of water resources as it did not mention any concrete suggestion to deal with the problem. It also noted that the Delhi government and Delhi Pollution Control Board did not even bother to file response on the problem as per its order.
It granted four weeks’ time to the Centre to file a comprehensive report spelling out immediate, intermediary and long-term measures to check the depletion of groundwater in the capital.>