STARTING 2019 summer, the Maharashtra government will implement stringent regulation on drilling of borewells in state. The government plans to introduce real-time monitoring of any digging activity being undertaken in the state. Shekhar Gaikwad, director, Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA) — which is actively involved in formulating the laws for the regulation — confirmed the move.
Summers are the peak season for drilling borewells and several illegal companies mushroom to carry on drilling activities. It hampers the already depleting groundwater tables that get recharged once a year during the monsoons. High demand for water tankers add to the burden on existing borewells that are used for commercial purposes. Though a dedicated committee, constituted two years ago, has been working to formulate the regulation, the report is said to be in the final stages.
“Currently, there are limitations in initiating any legal action against those flouting borewell drilling norms. With this law likely to be enforced starting 2019 summers, we are hopeful of regulating this activity,” Gaikwad told The Indian Express.
At present, civic body authorities have the power to raise complaints against errant companies or persons involved in borewell drilling to the sub divisional officer (SDO). There has been a rise in such complaints. As per the new regulation, which will cover both the urban and rural areas of the state, every company involved in digging activities will have to register online.
The registration will also include details of machinery, equipment and other materials possessed by the company. A move that is poised to help bring down the misuse of groundwater, particularly by active borewell digging lobbies, the regulation is expected to be tabled for final approval by September this year.
“Every time a company is booked for borewell drilling, its activities namely — prescribed depth of wells, number of pipes to be drilled, time of the day the drilling will be carried out — will be monitored in real-time, so that there is no room for any flouting of regulations,” added Gaikwad, whose team has submitted its recommendations for final consideration to the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation.
The regulation will impose stricter norms on the use of borewells for commercial use and no two wells will be permitted within a radius of 500 metres. Against the current practice of digging upto 700 metres and secretly carrying out digging during night time, the government has fixed the maximum depth at 60 metres.
“Those companies refusing to abide by the norms or continue to carry out drilling activities during wee hours, will have to face legal action, which can include permanent cancellation of licences and confiscation of equipment,” suggested another GSDA official, who is a part of the committee framing rules. SDOs will continue to remain monitoring authority at taluka-levels, except in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.