India India issues new guideline to regulate and control ground water extraction

On September 24, 2020, Central Ground Water Authority under the Ministry of Jal Shakti published the notification laying down guidelines for the regulation and management of groundwater extraction. This guideline replaces the guideline promulgated on December 12, 2018. The reasons of the replacement in a short period of time are as follows.

 

The Supreme Court (Hon’ble Tribunal) issued the order, dated January 3, 2019, which stated that the guideline, promulgated on December 12, 2018, may not be given effect to as it is unsustainable if tested on ‘Precautionary Principle, Sustainable development as well as Inter-generational Equity Principles’ and if implemented, will result in fast depletion of groundwater and damage to water bodies and will be destructive of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India;

 

Subsequently, by the Supreme Court’s order dated September 11, 2019, a committee was constituted to consult on steps to be taken to control groundwater decline, stable monitoring mechanism for unauthorized groundwater extraction and compliance with the conditions mentioned in the permit (NOC: No Objection Certificate). The committee submitted a report with the proposed new guidelines to the Supreme Court on March 16, 2020, which has now been promulgated as the new guideline.

 

If groundwater is to be used for industrial purposes:

  • The granting of NOCs to new industries will not be permitted, except in cases where they fall into the category of micro, small or medium enterprises, or where they are used as drinking or domestic water for employees in new industries.
  • Expansion of an existing industry that increases groundwater extraction will not be permitted.
  • New containerized drinking water industries in areas where groundwater is over-pumped will not be permitted to be granted NOCs, regardless of the size of the enterprise.

 

No Objection Certificate for ground water extraction by industries shall be granted subject to the following specific conditions (some examples shown below):

  • No Objection Certificate shall be granted only in such cases where local government water supply agencies are not able to supply the desired quantity of water.
  • All industries shall be required to adopt latest water efficient technologies so as to reduce dependence on ground water resources.
  • All industries abstracting ground water in excess of 100 m3/d shall be required to undertake annual water audit through Confederation of Indian Industries (CII)/ Federation Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)/ National Productivity Council (NPC) certified auditors and submit audit reports within three months of completion of the same to CGWA. All such industries shall be required to reduce their ground water use by at least 20% over the next three years through appropriate means.

 

The notification setting out the new guideline can be downloaded from the following URL.

http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/221952.pdf