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Jal Shakti ministry to oppose environment ministry’s ground water suggestions

Jal Shakti believes that there’s ambiwguity in the recommendations, which it alleges were made without adequate consultation with all stakeholders.

, ET Bureau|
Aug 08, 2019, 11.25 PM IST
NEW DELHI: The newly created Jal Shakti ministry is set to oppose the environment ministry in the National Green Tribunal over a clutch of radical recommendations on ground water usage like banning new commercial as well as residential projects and levying a water charge on farmers with larger holding in water stressed areas.

ET has learnt that the Jal Shakti ministry has begun hectic inter-ministerial consultations ahead of NGT’s August 23 hearing as the green ministry’s Expert Committee made its submission just about a month ago. Jal Shakti believes that there’s ambiwguity in the recommendations, which it alleges were made without adequate consultation with all stakeholders.

If the NGT goes by the expert committee’s recommendations, it could close the door on all major industrial, commercial and residential projects in large areas of Delhi-NCR, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu which are considered water stressed.


According to the recent ground water assessment reports of the Central Ground Water Authority, Delhi has the highest OCS (Over exploited, Critical, Semi-Critical) units at 82%, Rajasthan is weighed down with 81% along with Punjab, neighbouring Haryana is at 75% units in OCS category and Tamil Nadu is at 59%.

The water resources department recently held rounds of meetings with the environment ministry on the matter, seeking clarifications on the expert committee’s submissions and apprising the green ministry of its disagreement with any blanket ban regimes.

On January 4, the NGT had stayed environment ministry’s December 12, 2018 notification on ground water extraction in view of ‘serious shortcomings’. It also ordered the ministry to set up a committee with experts from IIT, IIM, Central Pollution Control Board and Niti Aayog to draw up a policy framework for ground water usage.The committee submitted its report to NGT on July 17 and has sparked strong concerns within the government over its implications. It calls for restriction in production and capacity if an industrial unit cannot recharge as much ground water as it is extracting in OCS areas.

The committee has said that farmers with individual land holdings of 3-5 hectares may be covered under a regulation ‘with nominal charges’ by CGWA or the state offices.

As per the 10th Agriculture census 2015-16 report released last year, farmers owning between 2-10 hectares of land account for 13.2% of all farmers, but own 43.6% of crop area. So this ‘nominal charges’ regime will apply to a huge crop area, if implemented.

The committee also recommended imposing a ‘water conservation fee’ on users besides rolling out a scheme for ‘Water Credits’-points that can be earned for undertaking water conservationmeasures.

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