New groundwater norms to make industries more water-responsible

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on March 01, 2021

While agriculture, individual households, some military and police establishments and small industries using less quantities of water are exempted from these groundwater regulations   -  The Hindu

Commercial and bulk users of groundwater in the country will have to mandatorily get a no-objection certificate (NOC) and those who draw more than 100 kilolitres per day (KLD) will have to carry out annual water audits and reduce their groundwater footprint by 20 per cent over the next three years.

These groundwater usage guidelines have come into force since September last year, but industries and infrastructure projects will have time till June this year for procuring an NOC as the Central Groundwater Authority (CGWA) has extended the deadline multiple times considering the pandemic situation in the country.

“The notification has come into force since September 26. Half of the establishments, however, are still not aware of the existence of such guidelines. Not just industries, establishments such as residential colonies, hospitals, schools and malls, etc have to apply for such an NOC. If they do not apply before the deadline, all defaulters have to pay fine, which can run into a few lakhs of rupees,” said a source in the know of development.

Establishments which are drawing water more than 100 KLD will have much more stringent rules in place. They not only have to install tamper-proof flow meters to monitor groundwater extraction, but also do annual water audits and have to commit to reduce groundwater extraction by 20 per cent by three years. It is said that there are around 30 lakh establishments who would have to comply with the new rules.

Stringent rules

These stringent guidelines are being put in place following the orders of the National Green Tribunal to regulate groundwater usage in the country. While agriculture, individual households, some military and police establishments and small industries using less quantities of water are exempted from these groundwater regulations, all others that have borewells — existing or new — have to get an NOC from the CGWA or State groundwater bodies.

While a section of industries is aware of the new guidelines and already taking steps to implement them, there are others who do not how to go about doing this. Textile industry comprising small players, for instance, thinks that it may not be in a position to take adequate measures to reduce water consumption without support from the government.

“Taking steps to cut down water usage will definitely increase the cost of the industry, and it will also be very difficult for the MSMEs to invest in the same,” said Sanjay Jain, a Delhi-based textile manufacturer and past Chairman of industry body Confederation of Indian Textiles Industries.

According to Jain, the government should also take steps to enable the industry to follow its notification. “Along with the issuing of the notification, it is important that the government creates a panel of vendors and generates ideas for implementing measures in a reasonable way. There could be a subsidy for those being responsive by reducing the equipment cost,” Jain suggested.

An expert committee set up by the CGWA is currently finalising the specifications for flowmeters. “There is a need to have battery-operated flowmeter with telemetry for tamper-proof metering of groundwater usage. A meter that works on electricity can be easily manipulated,” said Vinay Chatraju, Co-founder and Business head of Kritsnam Technologies, a start-up incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, which has developed sophisticated tamper-proof flowmeters that cost much lower than those currently available in the market.

With inputs from Amiti Sen and Mamuni Das

Published on February 28, 2021

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