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“Hike cess on commercial use of underground water”: Assocham

“Hike cess on commercial use of underground water”: Assocham
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First Published: Tue, Aug 07 2007. 03 34 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Aug 07 2007. 03 34 PM IST
New Delhi: To discourage indiscriminate consumption of groundwater, Assocham has called for a minimum 10 times hike in the cess for commercial use from 20 to 25 paise per kilolitre.
The Chamber has supported and endorsed recommendations of Water Advisory Council in this regard, recently submitted to Prime Minister’s Office, arguing that extraction of under groundwater for commercial use should be heavily charged in the form of cess. It should be made a congizable offence in case users evade timely payment.
Currently, water cess varies between 20-25 paise per kilolitre from state to state which needs to be hiked 10 times, in order to make its commercial use of greater value, moreso since water resources and their ground levels are depleting at a pace that is faster than anticipated.
According to the Chamber, the Council report should immediately be put to implementation by hiking the cess to Rs2.50 per kilolitre as water would become a scarce commodity in the near future.
Commercial user of groundwater indiscriminately and extracting it for profiteering without making proper and scientific use is hampering its usage for public consumption.
Recommendations
Rates for the cess should be far higher so that value of water is realized. Environment & Forests Ministry can, through Central Pollution Control Board can compel the industry to look into technological interventions, leading to reduced use per unit production which in the end will further reduce generation of pollution load and consequent cost of treatment.
Water beneath commercial and residential properties should be treated as government and not personal property. Legislation should be brought about in consensus with all political parties in the public interest so that citizens grow conscious of water scarcity that is likely to be imminent in the near future. There should be an awareness that indiscriminate use can lead to a growing sense of deprivation and social unrest.
Due to increased economic activity, water levels in all industrial hubs of every state have gone down over 50 times. Issue of water cess has not been addressed in the last many decades and that has further compounded the problem.
Water extraction from underground levels remaining unchecked and commercial users installing plants to extract underground water without obtaining necessary permissions from licensing authorities are dangerous propositions.
Indiscriminate extraction has led to severe shortage of water supplies for drinking purpose. Also water extraction plants should be put up only with prior approvals of necessary licensing authorities to ensure that value of water is realized and the source of nature is not wasted for ulterior gains.
Ground water for industrial use from any source should be rationalized in a way that cost of raw water is on par with that of recycling waste water from the industry. The government should also make ground water measuring compulsory to monitor consumption pattern of industries.
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First Published: Tue, Aug 07 2007. 03 34 PM IST