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NGT brings strict conditions for commercial use of ground water

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

NGT brings strict conditions for commercial use of ground water:


The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has set stringent conditions for commercial groundwater use.

  • The order came on a plea seeking direction to check depleting groundwater level in the country.

NGT has also struck down the Central Ground Water Authority’s (CGWA) 2020 guidelines, saying they were against the law. The 2018 version of the guidelines had been struck down by the NGT last year.

Conditions set by NGT:

  1. Industries must expect a complete overhaul in the manner in which the permits are issued for the extraction of groundwater for commercial activities. They must ensure that all the conditions are complied with.
  2. The tribunal has specifically banned the general permission for the withdrawal of groundwater, especially to the commercial entities without an environment impact assessment.
  3. Permits must be for the specified quantity of water and must be monitored with digital flow metres and audited every year by the third parties.
  4. Strict actions, including prosecution and blacklisting, must be taken against those who will fail the audit.
  5. All overexploited, critical and semi-critical (OCS) assessment units must undergo water mapping.
  6. Authorities are given three months to make water management plans for all the overexploited, semi-critical, and critical areas.

Concerns associated with these conditions:

  • As per some of the experts, these directions have put rigorous requirements on the businesses at a time when they have been trying to find their way amid COVID-19.
  • The restrictions make access of groundwater very difficult.
  • The move by NGT has also been interfering with the legislative functions of the Jal Shakti Ministry.

Why NGT felt these conditions were necessary?

No improvements: There was no claim over groundwater levels improving, nor was there a projection for future improvement in the past 23 years of regulation by the CGWB.

India was at the bottom of the water quality index, at 120 among 122 countries.

Fifty-four per cent of India’s groundwater wells have decreased in levels, with 21 major cities across the country expected to run out of groundwater by 2020.

India extracted the most groundwater. India accounted for 25 per cent of the total annual global water extracted, with the extraction level steadily increasing.

According to ‘Water and Related Statistics 2019’, a report published by the Central Water Commission (CWC), the annual replenishable groundwater resources in India (2017) are 432 BCM, out of which 393 BCM is the annual “extractable” groundwater availability.

Related Schemes- Atal Bhujal Yojana (AJY):


Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of Atal Bhujal Yojana? States in which it is being implemented?
  2. About Central Water Commission.
  3. About Global Drinking Water Quality Index,
  4. Central Ground Water Authority- composition and functions.
  5. NGT- establishment, members and functions.

Mains Link:

India’s overexploitation of groundwater is leading to the worst water crisis in its history. Examine and suggest measures for improvement.


Sources: Down to Earth.