NEW DELHI: Availability of water for drinking is the first priority and industries and the relevant authorities must find alternative ways for their sustenance instead of allowing indiscriminate withdrawal of groundwater, the National Green Tribunal has said. The “critically” exploited areas had been found to be seriously affected by withdrawal of groundwater, and regulating such extraction for commercial purposes could not be dispensed with, the green panel said.
“Availability of water for drinking is the first priority. The ‘Precautionary’ principle, ‘Sustainable Development’ principle and the inter-generational equity are part of life and in the absence of replenishment of groundwater, unregulated withdrawal thereof cannot be held to be right of any commercial entity. Shortage of availability of water for commercial purposes cannot be remedied by the withdrawal of groundwater in over-exploited, critically exploited and semi-critical exploited (OCS) areas,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said.
It said, “Water is certainly a scarce resource and the industry has to put up with such scarcity. It is for the industry and the concerned authorities to find out alternative ways and means for sustenance of the industries instead of permitting indiscriminate withdrawal of groundwater in such areas till situation improves.”
The tribunal suggested that alternative means may be shifting to areas where water is not scarce or to processes where water is not required.“As already noted, groundwater is depleting in such areas and measures are required to check such depletion. If industries continue to draw groundwater without NOC from Central Ground Water Authority as per current guidelines and orders of this tribunal in OCS areas, the industries will have to face legal consequence of such illegal action,” the NGT bench said.