Drawing groundwater to be charged

All users of groundwater, barring the armed forces, farmers and individual households, face additional bills from June 1 next year as the Centre has — for the first time — decided to slap a water conservation fee (WCF) on groundwater extraction. The WCF, which varies with the area, type of industry and quantum of water extraction, was one of the major features of the revised groundwater extraction guidelines notified by the Ministry of Water Resources, an official statement said on Thursday.

Apart from industrial units, all business establishments and infrastructure projects, such as residential and office buildings, hotels and hospitals, have to pay a WCF. It could vary from 1 INR to 100 INR per cubic metre (m3) of water extracted. The guidelines also insist on a mandatory audit for industries extracting 500 m3/day or more in safe and semi-critical regions, and 200 m3/day or more in critical and over-exploited regions.

The WCF will progressively increase from safe to over-exploited areas and from low to high water consuming industries as well as with the increasing quantum of groundwater extraction. The WCF is meant to discourage the setting up of new industries in over-exploited and critical areas, and deter large-scale groundwater extraction by industries, the statement said. It is also expected to force industries to take steps to use water efficiently, and discourage the growth of packaged drinking water units. While farmers and households using less than 1-inch diameter delivery pipes do not need to get an NOC from the authorities, the rest have to do so.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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