Centre stipulates NOC, conservation fee for groundwater extraction

Context:

  • The ministry of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation has notified new guidelines which stipulate that individual houses which have more than one well or use more than 1-inch diameter delivery pipes will have to obtain a no-objection certificate from the Central Ground Water Authority and also pay water conservation fee on the groundwater extracted.
  • The guidelines will come into force on June 1, 2019 and will supersede all the earlier guidelines issued by the authority.
  • The guidelines also restrict the sale of raw/ unprocessed/ untreated groundwater for commercial use by agencies not having valid NOC from the CGWA. They put a condition for permitting new wells to only those areas where public water supply system does not exist, or water supply is inadequate.
  • The NOC has also been made mandatory for all industries, mining and infrastructure projects requiring dewatering or groundwater withdrawal through wells.
  • The guidelines also levy a new water conservation fee based on quantum of groundwater extracted. The fee is based on use, area and quantity and varies from Re 1 to Rs 100 per cubic metre of the water extracted.

About Water Conservation Fee(WCF)

  • The WCF is meant to discourage setting up of new industries in overexploited and critical areas, and deter large-scale groundwater extraction by industries.
  • The rates, according to a CGA notification, are levied depending on the location of the groundwater extraction point and the amount of water being extracted. The government has a list of groundwater blocks, called assessment blocks. These are classified as ‘safe,’ ‘semi-critical,’ ‘critical’ and  ‘overexploited’ depending on the groundwater draught.
  • The packaged drinking water units and distilleries drawing up to 20 cubic metre a day in a ‘safe’ block would cost a company Rs 3 per cubic metre.
  • However, extracting 5,000 or more cubic metre a day at an ‘overexploited’ block would invite a daily charge in excess of Rs 100 per cubic metre.
  • Interestingly, for mining/infrastructure dewatering projects, the rate is less between Re 1 in a ‘safe’ block and Rs 7 in an ‘overexploited’ block. Government water supply agencies and government infrastructure projects will have to pay Rs 0.50 per cubic metre every month.
  • The water conservation fee for residential projects ranges from Rs 1-2 per cubic metre. The WCF apart, all industrial as well as residential bodies will also need to apply for an NOC.
  • Users drawing/proposing to draw saline groundwater will be given rebate of 25 per cent on the WCF. Package drinking water units located in salinity/ arsenic/ fluoride affected areas will be given rebate of 50 per cent on the WCF.

About the guidelines:

  • “The entire process of grant of NOC will be done online through a web-based application system of the CGA,” the water resources ministry said in the notification.
  • The major revisions made in the guidelines are about pan-India coverage, decentralisation of NOC issuing authorities and introduction of a water conservation fee in lieu of recharge mechanism which would be used by states for effective groundwater management.
  • Other salient features of the revised guidelines include encouraging the use of recycled and treated sewage water by industries, provision of action against polluting industries, and mandatory requirement of installing digital flow meters.
  • The Central Ground Water Authority has delegated the powers to the district collector to monitor compliance, check violations, launch prosecution against offenders and seal illegal wells.
  • The guidelines also encourage the use of recycled and treated sewage water. The revised guidelines exempted requirement of NOC and payment of water conservation fee on farmers, users employing non-energised means to extract water (bucket and rope, hand-pump, and others), and individual households with single well and armed forces establishments during operational deployment or during mobilisation in forward locations.

Source: NavHindTimes