The National Green Tribunal has granted more time to the Central Pollution Control Board for submitting guidelines on restoration of water bodies across the country.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson justice Adarsh Kumar Goel extended the time after CPCB sought more time on account of Covid–19 pandemic.
"Having regard to the facts, we extend the time for the States to complete action in terms of order dated February 25 till July 31. The CPCB may thereafter file its report by October 31, 2020 by e-mail," the bench said.
The green panel said the protection of water bodies not only adds to availability of water for different purposes, it also contributes to recharge of ground water and maintaining e-flow in the rivers.
While rainwater harvesting is certainly important, harvesting surplus water during excessive rains from any areas of catchment needs to be optimised by enhancing the capacity of the existing ponds/water bodies, creation of water harvesting structures etc , the tribunal said.
The NGT said that apart from setting up of additional water bodies/water harvesting structures wherever viable, utilising available funds including under MGNREGA and involving the community at large at every level was also important.
"Gram Panchayats can certainly play a significant role in the matter. Once adequate capacity enhancement of waterbodies takes place, excess flood/rain water can be channelised by using appropriate water harvesting techniques," the tribunal said.
"This action needs to be coordinated by District Magistrates in coordination with the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control or other concerned departments. DM may hold a meeting of all the stakeholders and ensure that at least one pond/water body must be restored in every village, apart from creation of any new pond/water body," the NGT said.
The green panel further said that action taken in this regard may be compiled at State level and reports furnished to the Chief Secretaries of the States by the concerned District Magistrates.
"Consolidated report of the State may thereafter be forwarded to the CPCB preferably by August 31 and CPCB may cover this aspect also in its meeting," it said while posting the matter for hearing on November.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by petitioner Haryana resident Lt Col (retired) Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi seeking to restore Ghata Lake in Gurgaon besides restoration of 214 other water bodies and natural channels in the district and similar water bodies in Faridabad.
The tribunal had expanded the scope of the petition to the entire country, in the interest of protection of environment.