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In Gurugram, poor sanitation makes residents’ lives a misery

Copyright: ultrapro / 123RF Stock PhotoGurugram officials are on notice from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to act on the pollution of water. 

“Unscientific discharge of sewage into open water bodies [is] adversely affecting groundwater and recipient waterbodies at Ansal Esencia, Sector 67 area of Gurugram,” the NGT said in an order to the Haryana State Pollution Control Board and the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG). “Look into the matter, take appropriate action in accordance with law and furnish a factual and action-taken report within a month,” the Tribunal went on to instruct the bodies. The locality and its surrounding societies are reportedly home to more than 500 families. 

A complaint by a resident of Ansal Esencia pressed the NGT to issue its order. The Hindustan Times reports that residents have complained of the dumping of sewage into water bodies for the past four years, noting “health concerns due to the presence of a large pond of untreated sewage near the approach road of Ansal Esencia”. 

According to the report, the residents first filed a complaint with the Union Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change in 2015. Since then, however, “the discharge of sewage has only grown and the area has come to resemble a lake”. This is despite the Ministry directing the Department of Town and Country Planning at the time to address the matter. Locals have raised the fact that sewers in the district are not connected to the government’s drainage system, leading to what one resident described as “perennial backflow.”

One resident of the area told The Times of India that “after media reports in February and March, the source of sewage to the waterbody was blocked. However, the sewage is now spilling on to the road. Discharge of untreated sewage, therefore, still poses a huge health threat in the area.”

Water pollution is a statewide concern in Haryana. In 2015, The Pioneer reported that two lakh Haryana residents are vulnerable to contaminated water supplies. Contemporary data from the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (since sublimated into the Ministry of Jal Shakti) revealed that polluted water affected 678 habitations in the state. In 2017, the Central Ground Water Board found that groundwater was unsafe for consumption in eleven of the state’s 22 districts. 

The risks to health due to water pollution include the ability of pockets of stagnant wastewater to act breeding grounds for mosquitoes, making neighbouring populations vulnerable to vector-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya. This risk is only exacerbated by the monsoon rains, which have seen parts of Haryana including Gurugram beset by flooding. District residents have pointed to the monsoon as a fear that their pollution woes may only get worse. 

Poor sanitation leading to the contamination of water is a countrywide issue. As was revealed earlier this year, seventy percent of drinking water in India is contaminated. The Jal Shakti Ministry was established with the mandate to clean up India’s water supply and ensure access to water. Unless poor sanitation leading to pollution with sewage and other contaminants is addressed, crises like that being seen in Sector 67 of Gurugram will only continue.

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