NEW DELHI: Individuals and industries may soon have to pay a water conservation fee besides their water bill, with the Centre proposing to charge for extraction of ground water.
The plan is to levy fee on private townships, societies, apartments, industries and recreational clubs among others based on the amount of ground water extracted by them. The draft guideline for ground water withdrawal is prepared by the Ministry of Water Resources.
The draft guidelines make it mandatory for the industries, mining and infrastructure projects, other than those of government, to obtain a no-objection certificate for withdrawing ground water. The experts working in the field are not happy and say this will further deteriorate the ground water situation in the country.
According to the ministry, need for a uniform regulatory framework for groundwater usage was needed keeping in mind increased number of litigations over water in various courts. The idea is that uniform guidelines across the country will help in mitigating discriminatory practices in regulation.
“All industries, mining, infrastructure de-watering projects, whether existing, new, under expansion and drawing/proposing to draw ground water through energized means shall need to obtain NOC for ground water withdrawal from the CGWA (Central ground Water Board),” said the draft.
The government has decided to exempt farmers from taking NOC for extracting water on ground that “livelihood of farmers is dependent on agriculture’.
The draft guidelines also call for a ‘Water Conservation Fee’ based on quantum of ground water extraction to be paid to states but stated that government infrastructure projects, government water supply agencies and group housing societies/private housing societies with only basic amenities will be exempted from such fees. Government mining projects will also be exempted from paying such fees.
However, infrastructure projects including societies/builder constructed apartments, townships having recreational facilities like club, gym, commercial places, swimming pool will have to pay fee.
Criticising the guidelines, Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) said it is going to change the water regulatory system in a big way.
“The guidelines levy a paltry fee but have totally done away with the need to recharge the groundwater. This means pay and keep exploiting the ground water, this is totally disastrous for the ground water,” said Thakkar.
There is a critical situation of ground water in India as out of the 6607 blocks, mandals, talukas, districts assessed, 1071 are over-exploited, 217 are critical, 697 are semi- critical units, 4580 safe units and 92 saline units.