NEW DELHI: Nearly two months after Union Jal Shakti ministry notified guidelines for usage of groundwater in the country, the environment ministry has raised concerns over relaxations given to industries in usage of groundwater and not having strict norms to check its pollution.
The Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) under the Jal Shakti ministry on September 24 had notified the groundwater rules for extracting groundwater without permission but exempted the agriculture sector which has the largest consumption from the requirement of a no-objection certificate for drawing water.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the union environment ministry following directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) submitted its views and pointed at loopholes in the guidelines.
The guidelines provided exemption from seeking No Objection Certificate (v) to Micro and Small Enterprises drawing groundwater less than 10 cum/day but the CPCB said that the units located in a cluster or designated industrial areas may not be given blanket exemption in OCS (Over and Critical and Exploited) blocks.
“Existing units in all the OCS blocks may be allowed to continue without any expansion subject to conditions that recharge activities in the vicinity are adopted under Corporate Responsibility. CGWA should take the lead role in Critical and Over Exploited areas rather than delegating powers to the State Ground Water Authority, for protection and conservation of groundwater resources,” it added.
New industries falling under 17 categories of Highly Polluting Industries (HPIs) and Grossly Polluting Industries (GPIs) should not be allowed in all OCS Blocks till further orders from CGWA and authority may decide based on positive yield rates in the areas.
It further said that all users, commercial & industrial, should pay restoration charges in addition to abstraction charges in OCS blocks.
“Month-wise database may be maintained block-wise/area-wise to observe the trend of water level in the public domain. The project proponent may also provide monthly data on groundwater levels, on a central portal of CGWA. The over-exploited and critical blocks need protection, while semi-critical blocks need close watch/ surveillance. In any case, the proposed abstraction charges for groundwater should be applicable to sustain the measures of recharging groundwater. The measures to ensure protection and prevention of pollution needed better surveillance through State departments,” according to the national pollution watchdog.