Don't waste groundwater for Metro; Mumbai NGO writes to water ministry

Updated: Jul 28, 2019, 08:20 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

NGO asks water ministry to not give permission to Metro authority asking to use groundwater on site to wash and clean railway bogies

Don't waste groundwater for Metro; Mumbai NGO writes to water ministry

Mumbai-based NGO Vanashakti, which is associated with the cause of saving Aarey Milk Colony and has been opposing the construction of the car depot of Metro line three, has now written a letter to the Central Ground Water Authority of the Ministry of Water Resources. Ths letter demands that they not grant permissions for use of groundwater (that is of drinking water standard) to be used in any other way. The NGO claims that the Metro authorities have approached the water resources department seeking permission to use groundwater collected at the site. It is said that over 50,000 litres of fresh water is being proposed to be used for the wash and service of railway bogies.

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"This is to draw your attention to the proposal from Mumbai suburban pending at your end for use of groundwater of drinking water standard to wash railway bogies. The applicant who has moved the application is MMRCL.( Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited). Online application number 21-4/1703/MH/INF/2018 dated 29/04/2019. Over 50,000 litres of fresh water of drinking water standard is proposed to be used for a polluting industry to wash and service railway bogies," states the copy of letter that is in possession of mid-day. In the letter, it has also been alleged that the site in question is a naturally forested area on the banks of the Mithi river and has almost 3,000 trees. This 33-ha plot is part of a larger forested area of 1,280 ha which is in continuity from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. There exists a vast variety of flora and fauna in the region including leopards and schedule 1 species of wildlife.

Project site of The MMRDA Metro-3 Plans
Project site of The MMRDA Metro-3 Plans

"The state of Maharashtra is facing repeated drought situation every passing year. The drinking water availability for the citizens of the state and of the country is precarious. In such a scenario, it is blasphemous and a cardinal sin to sacrifice drinking water to wash railway bogies. Furthermore, the railway locomotive shed servicing falls under Red Category Industry (highly polluting). This project will damage the groundwater quality and has the serious threat of further degrading/polluting the Mithi river. Please check satellite imagery to understand the site better," said Vanashakti director Stalin D.

It may be noted that the agency implementing the project needs permission to fell 3,000 trees from the Tree Authority of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, and also for the use of groundwater. According to activists, the permissions are yet to be granted. "The site in question was originally part of an ecological sensitive zone proposed by the State Forest department but was subsequently deleted to allow the site to be used for the Metro Service station (car shed). But the statutory permissions like clearance from Ground water Authority and Tree Authority had to be obtained before doing any work. The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has also specified that permissions from Central Groundwater Authority is needed. There exists an alternate site to locate the service centre. This site at Kanjurmarg has abundant water of potable quality since it is near the creeks. Hence, there is no threat of depletion of fresh water which is seeping in from the creeks through the clay soil," Stalin further added.

Also Read: Mumbai: NGO requests CM Devendra Fadnavis to initiate probe into Aarey 'land scam'

In the letter, the NGO has also alleged that the contractor in his application has lied about the fact that the green belt at the site is zero. "The applicant has said the green belt is zero. This is a complete lie and we have described the site to you in the previous section of this email. A land measuring 33 ha which is on the banks of the river, with 3,000 trees in it, with river channels crossing onto it with abundant grass on the surface is more than just a "Green Belt". It qualifies to be a forest. This plot is also an important catchment for the Mithi river. Drawing such huge volumes of groundwater will definitely impact the forested land which has five lakh trees in it," concludes the letter.

groundwater of drinking standard proposed to be used to wash bogies

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