Construction has stopped on hundreds of apartment blocks in suburban areas of New Delhi following an order from the country’s green court restraining builders from extracting groundwater for construction work.
A five-member bench of the National Green Tribunal said in its January 12 order that the city faced a “serious environmental threat relating to underground water,” and so groundwater extraction in any quantity by builders needed to be curbed.
“Underground water utilized for purposes of construction hardly re-percolates in to the earth because it is tree-zone free, has a concrete base and water is wasted as it flows into drains,” the court noted.
The court order primarily applies to construction of apartments in the fast-growing areas of Noida and Greater Noida that adjoin New Delhi.
This is the one of the first times in India that construction work has been halted due to a ruling by the green court.
The ruling will be in force until a hearing on the case, which is expected to take place by the end of this month.
It came following complaints by environmental groups in Noida about the alarming drop in the groundwater level due to construction activities in the last couple of years.
Thousands of prospective apartment owners, mainly middle-class families, will be badly hit by the court order; the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) has already told local media that builders will pass on the escalated cost of buying and transporting water from other areas to the buyers.
But officials from Uttar Pradesh state, under whose administrative jurisdiction Noida falls, said they were addressing the problem.
“There should not be any major scarcity of water, as over 9 million liters of water are daily discharged from water recycling plants in the area and nearby [areas]. The area also lies near the Yamuna and Hindon rivers.