India is the largest user of ground water in the world, extracting ground water to the tune of 253 bcm per year, which is about 25% of the global ground water extraction. Out of the total of 6584 assessment units, 1034 have been categorized as ‘Over-exploited’ 253 as ‘Critical’, 681 as ‘Semi-Critical’ and 4520 as ‘Safe’ The remaining 96 assessment units have been classified as ‘Saline’ due to non-availability of fresh ground water due to salinity problem.
Ground water extraction in India is primarily for irrigation in agricultural activities, accounting for nearly 228 BCM (Billion Cubic Meter), which amounts to 90% of the annual ground water extraction. The remaining 10% of extraction (25 BCM) is for drinking & domestic as well as industrial uses. Industrial use is estimated to account for only about 5% of the annual ground water extraction in the country.
Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation constituted under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 vide Gazette notification No. S.O.38 (E) dated 14.01.1997 has the mandate of regulating ground water development and management in the country. In 23 States/ Union Territories ground water development is being regulated by Central Ground Water Authority. The remaining States/ Union Territories are regulating ground water development through ground water legislation enacted by them or through Government Orders.
CGWA has been regulating ground water development for its sustainable management in the country through measures such as issue of advisories, public notices, grant of No Objection Certificates (NOC) for ground water withdrawal.
Central Ground Water Authority has framed guidelines for grant of NOC for withdrawal of groundwater, which have been revised from time to time. Last revision in guidelines was done in 2015 to bring existing industries/ infrastructure/ mining projects under the purview of NOC. On 12th December 2018 CGWA notified revised guidelines for ground water extraction vide notification S.O. No. 6140 (E), which will be effective from 1st June 2019. The revised guidelines aim to ensure a more robust ground water regulatory mechanism in the country.
Water Conservation Fee
One of the important features of the revised guidelines is the introduction of the concept of Water Conservation Fee (WCF). The WCF payable varies with the category of the area, type of industry and the quantum of ground water extraction and is designed to progressively increase from safe to over-exploited areas and from low to high water consuming industries as well as with increasing quantum of ground water extraction. Through this design, the high rates of WCF are expected to discourage setting up of new industries in over-exploited and critical areas as well as act as a deterrent to large scale ground water extraction by industries, especially in over-exploited and critical areas. The WCF would also compel industries to adopt measures relating to water use efficiency and discourage the growth of packaged drinking water units, particularly in over-exploited and critical areas.
Other salient features of the revised guidelines include
As per the revised guidelines, exemption from requirement of NOC has been given to agricultural users, users employing non-energised means to extract water, individual households (using less than 1 inch diameter delivery pipe) and Armed Forces Establishments during operational deployment or during mobilization in forward locations. Other exemptions (with certain requirements) have been granted to strategic and operational infrastructure projects for Armed Forces, Defence and Paramilitary Forces Establishments and Government water supply agencies.
To access the complete guidelines, click here.