Home >News >India >Centre issues fresh guidelines on groundwater use
In December, the government had launched a scheme to conserve groundwater in seven states facing acute water shortage. (Photo: HT)
In December, the government had launched a scheme to conserve groundwater in seven states facing acute water shortage. (Photo: HT)

Centre issues fresh guidelines on groundwater use

  • Sustainable use of groundwater has been a priority for the Narendra Modi administration. As per official data, 90% of ground water is used for irrigation and 10% by domestic and industrial consumers

NEW DELHI: The Centre has notified fresh guidelines on groundwater use, prescribing penalties for extracting water without permission and for other offences after a set of rules notified in 2018 was struck down by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The guidelines notified by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) under the Jal Shakti ministry on Thursday prescribes a minimum environmental compensation of 1 lakh on industrial, mining and infrastructure users for extracting ground water without a no objection certificate (NOC). Thie s can rise, depending on the quantum of water extracted and the duration of the breach.

The notification exempts domestic consumers, rural drinking water schemes, armed forces, farmers and micro and small enterprises drawing water up to a limit from the requirement of a no objection certificate from the CGWA.

The new guidelines, which come into force immediately, seek to plug a regulatory vacuum in granting no objection certificates for groundwater use as the earlier set of rules was struck down by the NGT in January 2019.

That had led to a situation where all applications for renewal of NOC were put on hold pushing many industries into potential regulatory non-compliance in spite of them complying with all the riders in the NOC. In June, different industry bodies appealed to the government to resolve this regulatory uncertainty.

Although the new rules exempt farmers from the need for obtaining an NOC from CGWA, it highlights a key factor that leads to excessive groundwater extraction in the agriculture sector—free electricity supply to farmers.

In the agriculture sector, a participative approach is better to ensure sustainable groundwater management, the new norms noted.

"States/Union Territories are advised to review their free/subsidised electricity policy to farmers, bring suitable water pricing policy and may work further towards crop rotation/diversification/other initiatives to reduce overdependence on groundwater," the new guidelines said.

Sustainable use of groundwater has been a priority for the Narendra Modi administration.

In December, the government had launched a scheme to conserve groundwater in seven states facing acute water shortage and urged farmers to opt for less water-intensive crops. Named Atal Jal Yojana, the scheme was targeted at Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat where the ground water situation is very worrisome.

As per official data, 90% of groundwater is used for irrigation and 10% by domestic and industrial consumers.


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