The Groundwater Crusader Of Maharashtra

We have heroes among us. All we need to do is look for them. Here is a story of grit, passion and overwhelming courage from Ashok Towers. The story of Mr. Suresh Kumar Pukhrajji Dhoka from Ramnik Karia, a member of the same apartment community.

“Ashok Towers resident, Mr. Suresh Kumar Pukhrajji Dhoka had been working to protect Groundwater for as long as 15 years.

Mr. Dhoka has been tirelessly working against illegality of Groundwater sale and will continue doing the same in the near future. He has exposed a deadly nexus of crime, economic offense and corruption in this connection. The two illegal and unauthorized wells dug, without valid permission/NOC/license, uncontrolled extraction of underground water, and sold in open market for their own wrongful gain, from said two wells. This racket continued from year 1997 to July 2017 and came to an end only when the Hon’ble Judiciary intervened.

In year 2014 his son was a victim of dengue fever and this was the first cause of action. It is recorded in the case filed by Mr. Dhoka at Hon’ble National Green Tribunal Court. The verdict briefly states:

“illegal and unauthorized (unregulated) abstraction of water from the wells have resulted in unhygienic and unhealthy environmental conditions due to which the applicants son was afflicted with Dengue fever and hospitalized in serious condition.”

The judgment of NGT dated: 02nd March, 2017 in the case filed by Mr. Dhoka with guidance and legal opinions of his advocate was a grand success and a historic event. In other words, it is a historic verdict for Mumbai and State of Maharashtra which is first of its kind of case and Hon’ble Tribunal has restrained the unauthorized extractors of groundwater and rewarded the applicant for the same.

The involvement of antisocial elements in illegal groundwater extraction has been noted to the Hon’ble Tribunal by Mr. Dhoka vide his execution application and Hon’ble Tribunal has passed order to permanently close both the two illegal wells and the Hon’ble Tribunal in his order Dtd: 25th July, 2017 has given the liberty to Mr. Dhoka to file appropriate application for seeking environmental compensation.

Mr. Dhoka, thereafter, has filed another appeal before the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal, Pune for the Environmental compensation to be paid to the State of Maharashtra and or such amount be ordered to be credited to the Environment Relief Fund which worked out to approximately Rs. 222 crores.

Mr. Dhoka has made heavy correspondence which comprises approximately more than a thousand letters and crucial documents with almost 45 various government authorities and departments of State/Central and MCGM. He has given pages of suggestions and other information to Central & State Groundwater authorities on Draft Guidelines for Groundwater Rules in Maharashtra as well as in India. He has personally motivated various citizens to write to the agencies and give suggestions for betterment of the community.

He has given several pages of suggestions to the State Government in Maharashtra Groundwater Act, 2018. Due to his efforts, the Central Government CGWA guidelines were adopted in the said act.

In another event, the Local corporation was in process to make a comprehensive policy for water tankers and only 3 suggestions were submitted by citizens. The comprehensive policy was later being changed to only BMC water based on the crucial documents submitted and strong objections made by Mr. Dhoka.

He first filed the RTI application in year 2005 during the opening of this Act. The RTI Act was a solid weapon to Mr. Dhoka and till date he has filed several RTI’s to various government agencies in order to obtain all the crucial information and documents which has ultimately helped Mr. Dhoka to get justice in this case.

Several national newspapers namely DNA, ToI, Mumbai Mirror and others have covered the working of Mr. Dhoka on groundwater preservation.

Mr. Dhoka has fought alone and without any help of group of peoples or NGO support has successfully made this impossible mission possible. He has super natural energy and patience with a golden message to the next generation which states:

“the fight has to be done by us, we have to take the stand and position, the system and machineries are the weapons for your fight which will taste all your patience.””

Have a story of your apartment community taking up sustainable initiatives? Share it with us here.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Karnika Roy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *