Dec 20, 2018

India's Groundwater Authority Revises Groundwater Extraction Guidelines

The new guidelines include a controversial water conservation fee on industries

India implements new groundwater guidelines
India implements new groundwater guidelines

India’s Central Groundwater Authority (CGWA) has revised guidelines for groundwater extraction. The new guidelines include introduction of a water conservation fee on all industries utilizing groundwater, which varies with the category of area, types of industry and quantity of groundwater extracted.

Under the guidelines, industries will need to apply for a no objection certificate from the government, but the agricultural sector will be exempted from the new rules. According to the Times of India, the guidelines will come into effect beginning June 2019 and funds from the water conservation fees will be used for groundwater recharge projects.

CGWA hopes the new fee will discourage new industries from overexploiting critical groundwater areas, however, some water activists argue the law does not do enough to bar overexplotation.

“Rather than banning extraction of groundwater in areas which have been alarmingly overexploited, the government has made the issue negotiable,” said Water Activist Medha Patkar to the Tribune India.

The new guidelines encourage the use of recycled wastewater for industrial use. However, agriculturalists, people employing non-energized means to extract groundwater, and individual households using less than 1-in. diameter delivery pipes are exempt.

Trade bodies in the country’s knitwear sector have expressed opposition to the new groundwater guidelines, arguing the guidelines will directly impact more than 400 textile dyeing and bleaching units.

“The government should put the upcoming industries in a place where they should not depend on groundwater entirely or utilize it conservatively as mentioned in the new guidelines,” said Raja M. Shanmugham, president of the Tirupur Exporters’ Assn. “Otherwise, the implementation would defeat the purpose of ease of doing business. It will have a detrimental effect on the economy.”