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New borewells will need permission

Poornima Nataraj BANGALORE, July 2, 2012, DHNS 2:10 IST
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New borewells will not be allowed in the City without permission from the Karnataka Groundwater Authority and a mandatory registration with fees, once a notification to this effect is issued in a week’s time.

To arrest indiscriminate digging of borewells and commercial over-exploitation of Bangalore’s depleting ground water, the State government has finally decided to crack the whip by proposing mandatory registrations and penalties for defaulters.

A gazette notification on the Karnataka Ground Water (Regulation and Control of Development and Management) Act, 2011, will be out in a week’s time.

The rules will make registration mandatory for digging a borewell, be it for domestic, industrial, commercial or entertainment purposes, bringing borewells would be brought under the Groundwater Authority’s radar.

The registration fees, however, are negligible. For a domestic borewell, it is Rs 50, and Rs 500 for every borewell intended to be sunk under the industrial, commercial or entertainment sectors. However, the drilling agency would have to pay a higher Rs 5,000 to register for every borewell. Applicants will have to register within a period of 90 days from the notification date.

A report of the Department of Mines and Geology (DMG) reveals that groundwater exploitation is at an alarming 130 per cent in Bangalore East.

This implies that the area has used 100 per cent of the dynamic ground water, which recharges with rainwater, and 30 per cent of the static water present in the aquifer since thousands of years.

In Bangalore South, it is even worse at 176 per cent, while the exploitation is 135 per cent in Bangalore North. As many as 35 taluks in the State have been notified for over-exploitation.

The new rules require applicants to adopt meters to measure water they draw from underground, with a cap. Flouting the conditions will invite a penalty of Rs 5,000 and six months imprisonment. Implemented, the rules are expected to rein in the private water tanker operators, who are making a killing due to the city’s acute water crisis.

The State Groundwater Authority had recently recommended to the government to notify Bangalore Urban including North, East and Southern areas, which have over-exploited the groundwater beyond its permissible limits. The authority has held two meetings so far.

P N Srinivasachary, Principal Secretary, Minor Irrigation said, “We have decided to have district level committee chaired by the deputy commissioner of the district to monitor the groundwater regulation. In Bangalore City, BWSSB will ensure that provisions of the Act are implemented. It is a very late realisation to monitor groundwater in the State as it has been exploited beyond its limits. But somewhere there is a need for a beginning.”

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