The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has imposed a fine of Rs 76.5 crore on 38 builders for illegally extracting groundwater from borewells. The builders have to deposit the amount within 15 days.
Officials said the board imposed the maximum fine of Rs 6.6 crore on the Gaur City 2 project and a Rs 4 crore fine on the Gaur City 1 project. Close on the heels, the Galaxy Blue Sapphire and Ace Divino projects face Rs 3.6 crore and Rs 3.3 crore fines, respectively. Additionally, Ajnara Homes, Apex Golf Avenue and Ajnara Le Garden face Rs 1.8 crore, Rs 1.1 crore and Rs 1 crore fines, respectively.
In July 2022, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) formed a district-level joint committee comprising the district magistrate and officials from the state and central pollution control boards in response to a petition by two environmentalists alleging that 63 residential projects in Greater Noida and Greater Noida West were extracting groundwater illegally.
The committee screened all the projects in two phases and found borewells at 41 projects. Three of these 41 projects had permission to use groundwater, but the remaining 38 did not.
Subsequently, the UPPCB sent notices to 38 builders asking them to deposit 0.5% of the project cost as environmental compensation but received no response. So this month, the board has issued notices asking the 38 builders to pay a Rs 76.5 crore fine within 15 days.
“We have already issued notices to the builders on the fine imposed on them. They need to give the fine amount within 15 days of the notice,” said UPPCB regional officer Radhe Shyam.
During a May 15 hearing in the case, the UPPCB also filed an action-taken report with the NGT, notifying it about the fine imposed on the builders. The next hearing in the case is in July.
Further, the UPPCB has initiated action under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, against 29 projects, with show-cause notices issued to the builders concerned.