NGT raps Ministry over groundwater notification

The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday rapped the Union Water Resources Ministry over its notification pertaining to groundwater extraction. A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel came down heavily on the Ministry and said that the notification, issued on December 12, was against “national interest”. No-objection certificate In the notification, the Ministry had said that industries extracting groundwater and those that use the same for packaged drinking water, would need to apply for a no-objection certificate from the government. However, the agriculture sector will be exempt from the fees, the notification had said. The Ministry informed the Bench that a Water Conservation Fee has also been introduced in the revised guidelines. Water Conservation Fee “The WCF payable varies with the category of the area, type of industry and the quantum of groundwater extraction and is designed to progressively increase from over-exploited areas and from low to high water consuming industries as well as with increasing quantum of groundwater extraction,” read the affidavit submitted by the Ministry before the NGT. However, stating that merely imposing a cost was not enough to curb groundwater extraction, the green panel has asked other parties, including the petitioners, to put forth their suggestions and objections to the guidelines. While asking the petitioners to file their responses to the notification by January 2, the Tribunal added that a detailed order including the directions will be uploaded by the NGT by January 11. Earlier, the NGT had rapped the Central Ground Water Authority for failing to curb illegal extraction of groundwater and directed the Ministry to notify a policy by December 18.

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