Not So Green

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Nothing about Gurgaon is green, despite its mania for golf courses. Or rather, because of it, as a recent study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) suggests. The report says that groundwater level in the rapidly developing suburb is plummeting by 1.2 metres a year, due to the estimated 30,000 borewells that draw on it every day, and the blocking up of aquifers with construction rubble. Gurgaon has ten golf courses, where water use is unregulated—and there are plans for more. Malls are also given free licence to draw groundwater. “The authorities feign ignorance,” says Bharat Lal Seth, deputy programme manager (water), CSE. “In May last year, the Punjab & Haryana High Court had asked the Central Ground Water Authority, or CGWA, to provide details of groundwater levels. In February last year, the court had ordered the city’s authorities to restrict the use of groundwater to drinking and domestic purposes. This essentially called for a moratorium on numerous existing and future construction projects. None of the directives, however, have been carried out.” Another concern, he says, is all the untreated sewage that Gurgaon is discharging northwards into Delhi’s Najafgarh drain. “This impact is presently unnoticed,” he says, “but may lead to a row between city authorities as Delhi attempts to intercept and divert all untreated sewage flowing in that drain.”