The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has recently sought facts on a petition filed by a non-governmental organization (NGO) alleging the illegal use of groundwater in Haryana. The petition highlights the unchecked exploitation of groundwater in Haryana, which has led to severe depletion of water resources, posing a threat to the environment and the people of the state.

The petition filed by the NGO, Human Rights Social Justice Front, has alleged that groundwater extraction in Haryana is taking place without due regard to the law and issued permissions. The petitioner has argued that this has led to an alarming depletion of the groundwater level, affecting both surface water bodies and groundwater-dependent ecosystems. The NGO further added that unchecked groundwater extraction also leads to an increase in water scarcity, negatively impacting the state’s agriculture, and domestic water supply.

The NGT, which is the specialized judicial body entrusted with the task of resolving environmental disputes and enforcing environmental laws, has taken note of the petition and directed the Haryana government to furnish the facts relevant to the case. The NGT has sought the current status of groundwater levels, data on groundwater extraction, and the measures taken by the authorities to monitor and regulate groundwater usage.

According to a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report, Haryana is among the states with the highest groundwater depletion rate in India. The state, which is primarily dependent on groundwater for agriculture, has witnessed a significant decline in water levels over the years. The report finds that the state’s groundwater level has fallen by more than five meters in the past decade in some areas. If this trend continues, the report warned that the state is likely to face serious water crises in the future.

The current scenario of groundwater in Haryana has led to severe ecological consequences, fraying the fabric of the environment and posing a significant threat to the people of the state. Experts argue that the unrestrained extraction of groundwater is leading to a decline in water quality, causing soil degradation, and increasing the vulnerability of the groundwater resource. The unchecked exploitation of groundwater has also led to a spike in the concentration of contaminants such as arsenic, fluoride, and nitrate, posing severe health risks to the people of the state.

The authorities recognize the alarming state of groundwater resources in Haryana and have taken several initiatives to regulate groundwater extraction. The state government has launched various schemes to promote the use of surface water resources for irrigation and directed authorities to monitor groundwater usage. Additionally, the authorities have proposed a regulatory framework to manage and monitor groundwater usage effectively.

However, amidst these efforts, the state continues to struggle with rampant groundwater exploitation. The excessive use of groundwater by agricultural and industrial sectors, as well as an increasing number of tubewells dug to cater to domestic needs, have further aggravated the situation.

It is imperative to tackle the issue of unchecked groundwater extraction in Haryana urgently. The data on groundwater levels reveal the critical state of water resources in the state, and the continued exploitation would further aggravate the situation, causing an ecological and health catastrophe. The need of the hour is to adopt sustainable water management practices, encouraging the use of rainwater harvesting, wastewater reuse, and promote the adoption of efficient irrigation practices.

In conclusion, the NGT’s intervention in the matter of unchecked groundwater extraction in Haryana is a welcome step towards rectifying the situation. The data on groundwater levels highlight the critical nature of the issue, and the authorities must take immediate steps to sustainably manage and regulate groundwater usage in the state. The issue of water scarcity is a global challenge, and it is imperative to recognize the urgency of the situation and work together to ensure that water resources are not overexploited and are managed sustainably.