BWSSB nod must for borewells
New law lacks teeth, say experts
In a belated move to regulate unbridled sinking of borewells across the City, the State Government has made permission of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) zonal executive engineers mandatory for the drilling agency and the consumer.
But this new rule, which came into effect on Monday, lacks teeth. It is unlikely to curb the dangerous depletion of the city’s groundwater table, for the penalty for violation does not exceed Rs 10,000 even for industrial consumers. And BWSSB officials themselves admit that effective implementation will take “a long time.”
The rules, framed according to the Karnataka Groundwater Authority (KGA) guidelines, stipulate that failure to register with the BWSSB or a borewell sunk without permission will attract penalties ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000, and imprisonment. However, there are no city-specific KGA guidelines on granting or refusing permission.
A borewell may be disallowed only if it affects the volume of water available from a public borewell in the vicinity, as certified by a geologist. This implies that if a consumer wants to sink a new borewell, he just needs to apply, pay a lowly fee of Rs 50 and go ahead.
According to a September 6, 2012 government notification in the Karnataka Gazette, the rationale behind the “mandatory permission” move is depletion and overexploitation of the ground water in City areas. The notification called for compulsory registration under the Karnataka Groundwater (Regulation and Control of Development and Management) Act, 2011, wherein every existing user of ground water in the notified area has to register within a period of 120 days from December 3, 2012.
However, framing of all the required rules does not imply prompt implementation. A BWSSB official pointed out that ever since the drilling agencies learnt about the date for compulsory permission, they hurried to dig many more borewells over the last two months. “Many drilling agencies in the City are not even unaware about the KGA,” said the official.
The BWSSB has now proposed to start a campaign in every area to educate citizens about groundwater regulation which requires permission and registration.† This will be done through distribution of pamphlets by meter readers after water inspections.
Ever since Bangalore expanded from 245 sq kms to 800 sq kms to form the BBMP in 2006, the newly added areas comprising the seven CMCs of Rajarajeshwari, Dasarahalli, Bommanahalli, Krishnarajapuram, Mahadevapura, Byatarayanapura and Yelahanka, one Town Municipal Council—Kengeri—and 110 villages had to completely depend on groundwater for all uses.
In 2009, a study on the city’s groundwater by the Department of Mines and Geology indicated overexploitation, leading to an alarming decline in the water levels. It was found that in many areas, the drilling agencies had gone as deep as 1,000ft to touch the static resource of water after exhausting the dynamic resource of the aquifer.
The state government had finally woken up 16 years after drafting a bill to regulate groundwater extraction. After much dilly-dallying, the Karnataka Ground Water (Regulation and Control of Development and Management) Act, 2011, was passed. But it took another year to frame the rules for the Act and to create Karnataka Groundwater Authority.
* Fee for sinking new borewell by consumer for drinking purpose – Rs 50
* Fee for sinking new borewell by consumer for industrial/commercial/entertainment
purpose – Rs 500
* For drilling agencies registration – Rs 5,000
* The amount can be deposited in any Canara Bank branch to the current account number 0788201052332
* Sinking of borewell without registration or permission will invite penalties ranging from
Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 including imprisonment