In what environmentalists termed a major setback to the city’s ecology, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on February 1 disposed off a petition for the restoration of the Badshahpur nullah — Gurugram’s primary storm water drainage network.
The petition was filed in March 2017 by two city-based environmentalists, Vaishali Rana Chandra and Sharmila Kaushik, on behalf of a city-based non-governmental organisation, Haryali Welfare Society. “The idea was to bring the whole 29 kms of the Badshahpur drain back to its natural state,” Chandra said.
She explained that encroachments by real estate companies and civic authorities (who have been concretising the drain) had severely reduced the drain’s ability to channel runoff and recharge the underlying water table.
Backflow from the drain has been identified as a key reason for urban flooding in Gurugram, especially 2016’s infamous ‘Gurujam’.
The plaintiff said none of their concerns mentioned in the petition have been addressed by the court.
They said the petition raised both the issue of encroachments and concretisation but only the former was heard by the court. In November last year, the court passed an order seeking demolition of encroachments along the drain in Gwal Pahari, which included a 28-storey residential tower.
A demolition drive was conducted in January, more than two months after the NGT’S deadline for the same.
“Now, the district administration has claimed to remove some encroachments on the NGT’S instruction, but they have not touched the tower. It is a contradiction of the NGT’S own directive,” Chandra said, adding that the petition’s disposal was abrupt and unexpected.
Chandra and Kaushik are expected to file a review petition to challenge the NGT’S decision this week.
They also warned that continued degradation of the Badshahpur drain would only worsen the situation of urban flooding and groundwater recharge, especially in the Gwal Pahari area where the drain has been “subsumed by real estate projects”.
Moreover, the GMDA also plans to box in the drain along majority of its length. Detailed plans for this were revealed by the GMDA in January.
“Concretising the drain itself contradicts the law. The NGT has previously, in 2016, ordered that no storm water drains in the city can be concretised.
Now when someone is pointing out that this activity is still continuing, the court is dismissing the claim instead of upholding their previous judgement,” Chandra said, adding that NGT’S action does not inspire faith.
It will result in worsening floods and seriously toy with Gurugram’s water security, they said.
The NGT’S rationale behind the decision, however, is that the plaintiff’s grievances have been addressed (by way of the demolition drive conducted by the district administration in January).
“The NGT has made its decision. If the complainants are unhappy with it, they can always take legal recourse,” said an official in the district administration.
First Published: Feb 11, 2019 14:22 IST
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