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Above: An illustration showing how rainwater harvesting system works

In a major boost to the idea of groundwater conservation in New Delhi, the National Green Tribunal ordered on Thursday (November 16) that all the schools — private as well as government – to  install rainwater harvesting systems in their buildings within two months at their own cost.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also levied an environment cost of Rs 5 lakh to the schools which fail to erect rainwater harvesting systems within the stipulated period.

The bench gave the directions on the petition of Mahesh Chandra Saxena who has claimed that educational institutions, residential societies and government departments have either not mounted rainwater harvesting systems or have systems which are defective.

The green regulator also constituted a committee comprising senior officials from the Delhi Jal Board, the Public Works Department, the education department of the Delhi government, representatives of the Central Groundwater Authority and others and directed them to examine the buildings and grant permission to buildings for operating the system.

The Tribunal then directed schools to approach the committee to examine its premises.The Tribunal said in the directive: “The committee shall meet twice a month and deal with the applications of the schools and colleges expeditiously.”

However, the Tribunal gave some respite to the schools. The Tribunal stated that “if it not possible to set up a rainwater harvesting system, the institution should contact the committee within a week from today. The committee will then examine the premises.

“Upon inspection, if the committee feels that there is no prospect of installing such a system, then the panel may issue exemption certificate,” the bench said.

However, the Tribunal imposed an environment cost upon the exemption certificate. The cost will be utilised for setting up rainwater harvesting systems in viable nearby areas, including parks, the green panel said.

The Tribunal also directed the Delhi Jal Board and the director of the Delhi education department to issue notices to all schools within three days from November 16.

—India Legal Bureau

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