A PIL was filed by Abdul Hussain of Gorchuk and Ramij Ali of Noonmati in Guwahati earlier this year seeking the court’s directions to stop the illegal sale of groundwater by private tankers in the city.
While hearing the PIL, a division bench of Chief Justice RM Chhaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia directed the state government to “implement the provisions of the Assam Ground Water Control and Regulation Act, 2012 and the Assam Ground Water Control and Regulation Rules, 2022 in letter and spirit.”
The court further directed the state government, Kamrup (Metro) deputy commissioner, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) and the Public Health Engineering (PHE) department along with the other departments concerned to “maintain a close vigil and to eradicate any illegal use of groundwater and, if necessary, to take appropriate steps as per the provisions of the 2012 Act and the 2022 Rules.”
Around 30% of the total three lakh households in Guwahati have access to piped water supplied either by the GMC or the Guwahati Jal Board or the PHE department. The remaining households have to depend on private water suppliers or borewell for their daily needs.
It is pertinent to mention that the same division bench has been hearing another PIL filed by Chiriyakhana Path Jyestho Nagarik Sanstha (a senior citizens’ forum) on the potable water crisis in the city since September last year. Last September, the court directed the state government to file a detailed affidavit by October 27 stating its concrete plan for supplying potable water to the city residents and the time required to complete the same. In an affidavit filed on October 27, the state government stated that the greater Guwahati water project is under way and will be completed by 2024.
The project, with a capacity of around 440 million litres per day (MLD), was started a decade ago. But it has not yet been completed in any of the four zones – southeast Guwahati (construction began in 2016), southwest Guwahati (construction began in 2009), south-central Guwahati (construction began in 2011) and north Guwahati (construction began in 2011).