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Ensure supply of potable water to Lakshadweep villages: NGT

twitter-logoPTI | May 24, 2019 | Updated 17:13 IST

New Delhi, May 24 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal Friday directed the Lakshadweep administration to ensure supply of potable water to villages in the Union Territory and implement the action plan suggested by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) in this regard. A bench comprising Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore and Satyawan Singh Garbyal directed the administration to implement the action plan and the suggestions made by the amicus curie appointed by it within three months. It also directed Central Pollution Control Board to pay Rs 50,000 to amicus curiae Sameer Sodhi, advocate, for the services rendered by him within 15 days. "As the full requirement of fresh water in the islands cannot be met with from the limited fresh ground water resources, water supply schemes in all islands must resort to a combination of ground water, desalinated water and rainwater harvesting. "Desalination plants of suitable capacities may be installed in the remaining islands to supplement ground water resources," the tribunal said. The indiscriminate extraction of ground water through energised well needs to be monitored by the District Magistrate for protecting the limited fresh water resources, it said. The NGT's judgement came after taking note of a letter written by the villagers of Dweep panchayat of Kavaratti in the UT which is facing an alarming situation of depleting level of "very scarce" ground water. The tribunal had the district collector there and Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) to submit their reports on the issues. In their reports, the authorities conceded that the fragile fresh water resources may be lost forever if immediate efforts to regulate their use and conserve rainwater are not taken. The Union Territory of Lakshadweep is spread across 32 square kilometer area in the Arabian Sea and consists of 10 inhabited islands, 17 uninhabited islands, three reefs and six submerged sand banks having a population of 64,473 as per the 2011 census. The coral islands are located about 400 km from the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. It has a population density of 2,013 persons per square kilometer as per the census. Following the NGT's directive, the district collector of Lakshadweep has submitted a status report before the green panel and has said that all steps would be taken by the administration for preservation and management of precious ground water in the islands. Similarly, the Central Ground Water Authority has also given its report on the status of ground water level there. In their letter addressed to NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the villagers have said that their islands have a delicate ecosystem with very limited fresh potable water resources. "In the circumstances, we humbly request to chairman of National Green Tribunal kindly take immediate action to protect our land and water and also preserve it for our future generations," it had said. The villagers had said though the islands receive high rainfall, the lack of surface storage capacity and the limited ground water storage capacity make fresh water a precious commodity. The letter, written on July 24, last year also said that there were no surface water bodies such as streams and rivers in Lakshadweep and a limited quantity of ground water was available for utilisation of local people. It had said that the water requirements for drinking and domestic uses was on the rise due to increase in population. "Southwest monsoon is the rainy season. The average rainfall is 1640 mm and the rainfall infiltrates into the ground and small portion goes to recharge the ground water and the major portion is lost as subsurface run off and as potential evaporation losses," it had said. The letter had said that the depth from the surface to the ground water table is generally just a few metres. Based on this - Kavaratti, Agathi, Amini, Androth and Kilthan islands have been categorized as 'semi-critical' whereas the remaining islands have been categorised 'safe'," it said. Noting that the biggest misuse of water in the island is the excessive pumping of ground water, the villagers had said that in recent years use of high power pumps mostly of 1HP capacity has become common. "The pumping of ground water should be regulated and more attention should be given towards researching our ground water pumping because the ground water pumping is not scientific method in many places at Kavaratti islands. Here pumping more water from the ground then the sustainable (more than is being refilled by nature)," the letter further said. The villagers had said that though an RO plant is also running here but the disadvantage of the RO plant is that they remove most of the minerals from the water which are essential to the human body and cause mineral deficiency in the human body. "Approximately much more water compared to filtered out water is flushed down as waste water and also RO plant water purifier consumes much more electricity," they said. The letter had said that the availability of fresh water in the islands is limited and if the wastage goes on, then there will be no water to grow food and the ground water sources will dry up. PTI PKS SA

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