Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding withdrawal of water from Mussoorie lake by hotels, Uttarakhand, 21/04/2023

  • 21/04/2023

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Kartik Sharma Vs State of Uttarakhand dated 21/04/2023.

Grievance in the application is against unregulated drawal of water from Mussoorie Lake, having potential for damage to the lake. The violators include Hotel Jaypee Residency, Mussoorie and others. Larger issue is permitting number of hotels and visitors beyond the capacity of the environment to sustain without stringent enforcement of regulatory regime against the sustainable development principle to the detriment of flora and fauna in the area.

The report of the joint committee dated August 20, 2022 said that a large number of hotels were taking water through tankers from catchment areas of lake such as the water spring near the lake without any regulation. The committee recommended, the NGT, September 2, 2022 directed remedial measures to be overseen by the joint committee of Chairman, Uttarakhand Pay Jal Sansthan with nominees of National Wetland Authority, State Wetland Authority, Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board and District Magistrate, Dehradun.

The report by the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board, April 19, 2023 said that the system of extraction of stream water by private vendors and hotels through tankers have stopped. For past illegal withdrawal of water, the State PCB could not take any action in absence of parameters for fixing accountability. Out of 282 hotels, 176 have been examined for revalidating the consents out of whom 130 are found to be within the limit of water supplied by the Jal Sansthan and 46 have requirements beyond sanctioned supply.

The court expressed regret at the failure of the authorities in enforcing the law to protect the environment in the area by stopping and regulating unsustainable activities and taking action for past violations. This is so despite repeated specific observations of the NGT vide orders dated May 18, 2022, September 2, 2022 and January 12, 2023.

"Rampant illegality of unregulated withdrawal of water for commercial purposes to the detriment of the environment is acknowledged for which there are no remedial measures," the court said.

The NGT, April 21, 2023 directed the authorities in the state of Uttarakhand to take remedial measures to control and regulate commercial and construction activities in the area. This must include illegal withdrawal of potable water and waste management by commercial establishments, fixing liability for past violations and preventing continuing violations.

Review should be undertaken at the level of Chief Secretary, Uttarakhand with all other concerned departments and remedial action planned and executed within two months said the NGT order.