Green tribunal notice to Delhi Metro Rail on rainwater harvesting

Petition says metro rail corporation can harvest up to 87.3 million litres water annually

By Soma Basu
Published: Tuesday 16 April 2013

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has served notice to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for failing to harvest rainwater at its stations and depots.

Following a petition filed by Vikrant Kumar Tongad, an environment activist, the tribunal also issued notices to the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana for their failure to ensure that DMRC follows rainwater harvesting norms. The case will next be heard on May 6.

The petition states that DMRC has failed to install rain water harvesting structures at metro stations, tracks and depots, resulting in runoff flowing into drains. DMRC is dependent on Delhi Jal Board and ground water for its water requirement and is making no contribution to the recharge of ground water, the petition says. It estimates that at least 19.6 million litres of water can be harvested annually. If metro elevated tracks are also used for rain water harvesting, 63.7 million litres of additional water can be saved, the petition states.

The petitioner has sought directions to DMRC so that it implements directions issued by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) and notifications of state governments and MoEF that make rainwater harvesting mandatory. CGWA had issued the directions under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986, asking all chief secretaries of states to adopt rain water harvesting in all critically affected blocks/talukas.

This was followed by directions mandating rainwater harvesting in urban areas—group housing societies, institutions, industries, farmhouses and other establishments in Delhi were asked to install rainwater harvesting systems; in some areas of Delhi water levels are more than 8 metre below ground surface. Following CGWA directions, government of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi had issued directions, making the rainwater harvesting mandatory.

The petitioner submitted that in most of the stations of the metro rail, DMRC has not installed rain water harvesting systems. Even if they have been installed, they are not in proper working condition.

Tongad had also filed an RTI application, seeking information from DMRC on the stations where rain water harvesting systems are installed. DMRC replied that proper soak pits are provided in median of metro line from Shahdara to Dilshad Garden and Janakpuri West- Dwarka Sec-9.

The petitioner says the reply did not provide clear answers. He visited Sector 11 and Sector 14 Dwarka metro stations and found the rain water harvesting systems existed but were not functional. At other stations he found no rooftop water harvesting systems in place. In almost all the places, he found that the water accumulating on the roof top of stations or tracks is either flowing into drains or into open areas through a pipe. According to rainwater harvesting guidelines, the water should have been stored in underground tanks or could have been used for recharge of groundwater.

DMRC further informed that no roof top rain water harvesting systems exist in Noida stations.

The petitioner has also raised questions about DMRC’s proposed metro rail project in Jaipur city, where each pillar will reportedly have inbuilt downpipes to collect rainwater and direct it into underground tanks. As per pthe proposal, recharge tanks will be constructed after every 60 metre, and the water collected will be allowed to percolate into the subsoil through layers of sand, gravel and boulders. How is this possible when DMRC is not installing even basic rainwater harvesting systems in Delhi? the petitioner asks.


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