NEW DELHI: Misuse of potable water will be an offence in India, with violations punishable with up to five years in jail or up to Rs 1 lakh fine, according to a new directive by the Centre. The Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti has issued a notification under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 in this regard.
The notification came following direction of the National Green Tribunal, which was hearing a petition by one Rajendra Tyagi and the NGO FRIENDS, seeking to make water wastage and misuse a punishable offence in the country. As per the notification, the civic bodies dealing with water supply in all states and Union Territories shall be duty-bound to ensure that there is no waste or misuse of potable water tapped from underground and evolve a compliance mechanism, with coercive measures for violations.
The notification further states that no person in the country shall waste or misuse potable water resources tapped from underground. “Failure to comply with this notification, in each such incident of failure or contravention, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extent do five years or with fine which may extend to Rs 1 lakh or with both, and in case the failure or contravention continues, with additional fine, which may extend to Rs 5,000 for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction for the first such offence, under Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,” said Akash Vashishtha, the counsel in the matter.
The Centre has also written to all states to evolve and implement mechanisms with coercive measures, including penalty, for wasting groundwater. The NGT had directed the Union Jal Shakti Ministry that regulators should ensure that wastage of water is not profitable and the cost of such wastage is recovered.
As per the Report of National Commission on Integrated Water Resources Development, the total water availability of India received through precipitation is about 4,000 billion cubic-meter (BCM) per annum but the utilizable water availability is limited to only 1,122 BCM.
Overflowing overhead tanks, excessive use in flushing in toilets, wastage of water in bathing/hand-wash/kitchen use and leakage/seepage during transmission/distribution of water from up to the consumer end were flagged as some of the key sources of water wastage by the ministry.