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Delhi HC queries authorities on ground water contamination

PTI | New Delhi |

Concerned over the possibility of ground water contamination in the city due to industrial units in residential areas, the Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the authorities what steps they were taking to prevent it.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Navin Chawla issued notices to the Central Ground Water Board, Delhi government, Delhi Pollution Control Board and various civic bodies of the national capital and sought their stand by May 25.

It queried the authorities after taking cognisance of a news report about discharge of carcinogenic chemicals by cloth dyeing units in Mustafabad locality of northeast Delhi.

The report published in a national daily states that the untreated effluents are contaminating ground water, which is the main source of drinking water in the area, and that it is being linked to the high rate of cancer there.

The bench expressed displeasure over the dyeing units operating in residential area and said, "This is happening because nobody wants to get out of their offices and see what is happening in the areas under their jurisdiction".

"None of the agencies are working properly, even the MCDs are not performing their duty as per the statutory provisions under the law," it said, adding that there is not even a water policy in the country.

It asked all the authorities to inform it whether they have taken any steps to prevent such activities in Delhi.

The news report states that though no study has been conducted in this Mustafabad locality, locals trace the genesis of the abnormal rate of cancer to toxic chemicals used by the denim dyeing units.

Shocked to learn from the report that the locality is known as 'cancer colony', the bench observed, "the issue is of large environment concern".

Two deaths and eight suspected tumour cases have been detected in the locality

"Release of poisonous substance from these industries may not only impact the ground water in that area, but it may soon spread over other part of the city," the bench said.

It directed the Delhi government to place a preliminary report with regard to the impact on the health of residents in and around Mustafabad area due to such units.

It also asked the Delhi government to ensure that proper medical facility is made available to the residents of the area.

It observed that the "genesis of the problem is misuse of properties by the people".

The court noted that the residents of the locality depend on borewells and it is quite likely that the acids, dyes and untreated effluents discharged into the drain eventually seep into the ground water.