Stricter Norms for Commercial Use of Groundwater Set by NGT

Published: July 28, 2020

The National Green Tribunal has set very stringent guidelines for the commercial use of groundwater in the country and it has specifically directed the concerned authorities to be proactive while granting permits, initiating punitive actions in case of breaches and mandating third-party compliance audit of businesses every year.

This comes as the NGT stuck down the Central Ground Water Authority Guidelines in this regard published in 2020. The older guidelines published in 2018 were also nullified by the tribunal.

What has the NGT said?

  • The National Green Tribunal has banned general permission for withdrawal of groundwater to the commercial entities without an environmental impact assessment.
  • Any permit should be for a specified quantity of water and it should not be for perpetuity. Any such utilization of permit should be monitored with digital flow meters and audited every year by the third parties.
  • Swift action such as blacklisting and prosecution should be taken against entities failing in such audits.
  • Three months’ time has been given to make water management plans for all the overexploited, critical and semi-critical areas. Around 800000 companies fall in such areas which account for about one-third of all 3881 groundwater assessment units in the country.

Possible Consequences

The guidelines have caught most of the companies off-guard and amid the slowdown in economy; it will be all the more difficult for them to comply with the guidelines. This is going to put on hold around 20000 applications for NOCs from the industry on groundwater usage.

It is estimated that in India around 89% groundwater is extracted by the farmers whereas only 5% is done by the industry whereas the rest is for domestic use. So, the industries getting affected negatively would not solve the bigger issue at hand here.

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