Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Prelims and Mains focus: about the NGT order regarding groundwater extraction; about the groundwater situation in India; about CGWA
News: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday pulled up the State governments of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh over inaction towards large- scale illegal extraction of groundwater in “critical” and “semi-critical” areas.
What did the NGT Bench direct them to do?
The NGT Bench directed both the States to take remedial action and ensure that prior approval is sought from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).
Before any such permission is granted, the CGWA may ensure actual compliance of conditions of replenishment of groundwater with regard to the water table in areas so that there is no further deterioration of critical, semi-critical and over- exploited areas in terms of groundwater availability.
The Tribunal also specified that approvals should be granted based on a study of the availability of groundwater and periodical report that the replenishment had resulted in improvement in ground situation.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), along with the two State governments, were also directed to ensure recovery of compensation from violators by taking appropriate coercive measures.
India’s groundwater situation
About Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA)
Central Ground Water Authority has been constituted under Section 3 (3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to regulate and control development and management of ground water resources in the country.
Powers & Functions:
The Authority has been conferred with the following powers:
Exercise of powers under section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for issuing directions and taking such measures in respect of all the matters referred to in sub-section(2) of section 3 of the said Act.
To resort to penal provisions contained in sections 15 to 21 of the said Act.???????
To regulate and control, management and development of ground water in the country and to issue necessary regulatory directions for the purpose.
Exercise of powers under section 4 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for the appointment of officers.
The Central Ground Water Authority is regulating withdrawal of ground water by industries/ projects in 802 Over-exploited and 169 Critical Assessment Units. List of these critical areas has been circulated to the State Pollution Control Boards and Ministry of Environment & Forests which refer the new industries/ projects to CGWA for obtaining permission.
CGWA has notified 162 critical/ overexploited areas in parts of NCT Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, MP, Gujarat, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, UT of Puducherry and UT of Diu for control and regulation of development of ground water resources. For enforcement of the regulatory measures in these areas, concerned Deputy Commissioners/ District Magistrates have been directed under Section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to regulate ground water development in these notified areas.
Construction of new ground water structures is prohibited in the notified areas. Permission of drilling tubewells is being granted only to the Govt. agencies responsible for drinking water supply.