NEW DELHI: People and industries may soon have to pay a water conservation fee besides their water bill, with the Centre proposing a charge on extraction of ground water. The draft guidelines for ground water withdrawal have been prepared by the Ministry of Water Resources.
The guidelines call for a ‘water conservation fee’ based on the quantum of ground water extraction to be paid to states but say 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.
Infrastructure projects including societies/builder constructed apartments, townships having recreational facilities like club, gym and swimming pool will have to pay the fee. Criticising the guidelines, Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, said, “The guidelines levy a paltry fee but have done away with the need to recharge ground water. This means pay and keep exploiting the ground water. This is disastrous for ground water,” he said.
The ground water situation is critical as out of 6,607 blocks, mandals, talukas and districts assessed, 1,071 are over-exploited, 217 are critical, 697 are semi-critical, 4,580 safe and 92 saline.