After finding “serious shortcomings” with the Ministry of Water Resources’ December notification on the extraction of groundwater, the NGT has asked the Centre to not give effect and directed it to set up an expert panel to formulate policies relating to conservation of the natural resource, reports The Economic Times.
“Fast depletion of groundwater in recent years is a cause of concern for human well being", it said.
The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to set up an expert panel that includes representatives from IIT, IIM, CPCB and NITI Aayog to examine the issue of forming appropriate policy for conservation of groundwater in the country.
"Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) in a December 12, 2018 notification pertaining to groundwater extraction may not be given effect to in view of serious shortcomings so that an appropriate mechanism can be introduced consistent with the needs of the environment,” said the bench headed by NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel.
Extraction of groundwater has been liberalised, adding to the crisis, unmindful of the ground situation and likely impact it will have on the environment. It was clear that laying down stricter norms for extraction of groundwater for commercial purposes and putting in place a robust institutional mechanism for surveillance and monitoring was the need of the hour, said the tribunal.
"No data has been furnished to justify the policy reversal by way of uncontrolled liberalised drawal of groundwater in OCS (over-exploited, critical and semi-critical) areas," said the bench, in its order on Thursday.
The notification had said that industries extracting groundwater and those which use it 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.