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Now, groundwater NOC must for apartments, industries

The guidelines were notified in the gazette on September 24 and came into force with immediate effect.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
September 26, 2020 3:48:45 am
groundwater, NOC for groundwater, groundwater NOC, India news, Indian ExpressWhile the Centre has left it to states to take action, it itself has exempted agricultural activities from the requirement of obtaining a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for groundwater extraction.

The Centre has notified new guidelines to regulate extraction of groundwater, making it mandatory for new and existing industries, group housing societies, and private water supply tankers to get a no objection certificate (NOC) for withdrawal of groundwater. Non-compliance of NOC conditions may attract a penalty between Rs 50,000 and Rs 10 lakh.

“All new/existing industries, industries seeking expansion, infrastructure projects and mining projects abstracting groundwater, unless specifically exempted… will be required to seek No Objection Certificate from Central Ground Water Authority or, the concerned State/ UT Ground Water Authority as the case may be,” say new guidelines notified by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

The guidelines were notified in the gazette on September 24 and came into force with immediate effect.

The guidelines have exempted 5 categories from getting an NOC — individual domestic consumers in both rural and urban areas for drinking water and domestic uses; rural drinking water supply schemes; Armed Forces Establishments and Central Armed Police Forces establishments in both rural and urban areas; agricultural activities; and micro and small enterprises drawing groundwater less than 10 cubic metre/day.

However, NOC will be required for groundwater extraction for drinking and domestic use for residential apartments or group housing societies in urban areas where “local government water supply agency is unable to supply requisite amount of water”. The entities will also have to pay charges.

The NOC issued under the new guidelines will be valid for 2-5 years depending on the entity.

“Sale of ground water by a person/ agency not having valid no objection certificate from CGWA/State Ground Water Authority is not permitted,” the guidelines state. “All private tankers abstracting ground water and use it for supply as bulk water suppliers will now mandatorily seek No Objection Certificate…,” they stated.

Bulk water suppliers through tankers drawing groundwater in safe, semi-critical and critical assessment units shall pay abstraction charges at the rate of Rs 10/ cubic metre in safe areas, Rs 20/ cubic metre in semi-critical areas, Rs 25/ cubic metre in critical areas, and Rs 35/ cubic metre in over exploited areas.

For residential apartments, group housing societies and government supply agencies in urban areas, there will be no abstraction charge for domestic use up to 25 cubic metre/month. However, beyond this, they will have to pay charges at the rate of Re 1/cubic metre for groundwater withdrawal between 26-50 cubic metre per month and Rs 2/cubic metre for over 50 cubic metre per month.

Abstraction charges for packaged drinking water units will be Re 1/cubic metre to Rs 120/cubic metre depending on the quantum of groundwater withdrawal and the area. While charges will be between Rs 1/cubic metre to Rs 20/cubic metre for industries and infrastructure projects, they will be between Re 1/cubic metre to Rs 7/cubic metre for mining projects.

Non-compliance of NOC guidelines will draw a penalty between Rs 50,000 to Rs 10,00,000, depending on the violation. Installation of digital water flow meters is mandatory for all users seeking NOC.

The guidelines say extraction of groundwater for commercial use by industries, infrastructure units and mining projects without a valid NOC will be considered illegal and they will be liable to pay Environmental Compensation for groundwater extracted.

The rate of compensation for packaged drinking water units will be Rs 12/cubic metre to Rs 120/cubic metre depending on the area. For mining/ infrastructure dewatering projects, it will be in the range of Rs 15/cubic metre to Rs 150/cubic metre. The compensation rate will range from Rs 20/cubic metre to Rs 200/cubic metre for industrial units.

The minimum compensation will be at least Rs 1 lakh.

The guidelines authorise district authorities to take enforcement measures like sealing of abstraction structures and prosecuting those violating the NOC conditions.

“In Over-exploited assessment units, No Objection Certificate shall not be granted for ground water abstraction to any new industry except those falling in the category of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME),” the guidelines say.

However, No Objection Certificate for drinking/ domestic use for work force, green belt use by these new industries shall be permitted… No Objection Certificate shall not be granted to new packaged water industries in Overexploited areas, even if they belong to the MSME category,” the guidelines say.

The Central Ground Water Board has assessed 6,881 units across the country on the basis of groundwater resources. Out of them, 4,310 units have been designated as Safe, 972 as Semi Critical, 313 as critical, 1,186 units as over-exploited and 100 as saline.

New groundwater guidelines were necessitated because the guidelines issued by the Centre on December 12, 2018 were struck down by the National Green Tribunal in January 2019. Since then, there were no guidelines under which NOC for groundwater withdrawal can be issued. There was a policy paralysis as far as issuance and renewal of NOC is concerned.

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