Extraction of groundwater no longer easy: Agri sector among 5 exempted from NOC

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 9/25/2020 11:30:48 PM

NEW DELHI, Sep 25: Extraction of ground water will require the "No Objection Certificate” (NOC) from the Central Ground Water Authority or the state authority under the new guidelines notified by the Centre that come into effect immediately with pan India applicability, in a bid to preserve the ground water resources depleting fast. The guidelines have been issued by the Centre in deference to the approval given by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 20.
The agriculture sector and only four other users are exempted from the requirement of the NOC. The exempted categories besides agriculture are: individual domestic consumers extracting ground water for drinking and domestic use, rural drinking water supply schemes, Armed Forces and Central Armed Police Forces, and micro and small enterprises drawing ground water less than 10 cum(cubic metre) per day.
The NOC shall be mandatory even for the residential apartments, group housing societies and the government water supply agencies in Urban area where the local government agency is unable to supply requisite amount of water in the area.
The regulations also require the State/Union Territory government to register the drilling rigs operating within their jurisdiction and maintain the database of wells drilled by them.
All users in "over-exploited areas" and mines are required to get the NOC renewed every two years and the industries every three years. Those not renewing the NOC will be charged the "environmental compensation" for the ground water extracted. The regulations lay down the rates of this compensation and also prescribes penalties to be imposed on the non-compliance of the NOC certificates that range from Rs 50,000 to Rs 10 lakh. The penalty is Rs 2 lakh if digital water flow meter and piezometer is not installed.
The agriculture sector was exempted from NOC on the ground that considering the number of ground abstraction structures in agriculture, the regulation through "command and control" strategy will be an arduous task. The guidelines say a participatory approach for sustainable ground water management would be more productive.
The Gazette notification issued on September 24 says no new major industry shall be granted NOC in the over-exploited assessment areas and availability of ground water resources shall be given due regard while considering applications for NOC for the commercial use. The commercial units have to also submit online annual water audit report.
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). However, there shall be no ban on grant of NOC for the mining projects even in the over-exploited assessment units. It shall be, however, mandatory for the mining industries to treat water available from de-watering operations and gainfully utilised for irrigation, besides installation of the observation well (piezometers) for monitoring use of the ground water.
Similarly, NOC is not banned for the infrastructure projects in the over-exploited assessment areas. The notification gives and indicative list of the infrastructure projects. It also lays down that the NOC shall be granted for extraction of ground water for water parks, theme parks and amusement parks in the over-exploited assessment areas.



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