Tamil Nadu brings stringent rules to protect groundwater

Tamil Nadu brings stringent rules to protect groundwater

To protect groundwater and prevent its over exploitation, the Tamil Nadu government has brought stringent rules which make it mandatory for builders constructing more than six floors to obtain no-objection certificate (NOC).

The government’s latest move comes in the backdrop of severe dip in the groundwater levels in 20 of the 32 districts.

Taking serious view of the situation, the new norms have been brought under the Tamil Nadu Groundwater (Development and Management) Act, 2003.

“According to the rules and regulations, all the ongoing housing projects with more than six floors should mandatorily obtain clearance certificate from Public Works Department,” a senior official from Tamil Nadu Water Resources Department told Deccan Herald.

He said the new rule will not be applicable for houses already constructed and occupied. Since Chennai and some parts of Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts are coming under the City’s Metropolitan Area Groundwater (Regulation) Act, these areas do not come under the new rule. The rule says every user of groundwater, who is building houses with more than sixth floors in the notified area, should apply for the NOC immediately.

The builder who violates the rule “shall be punishable with fine which may extend to Rs 500 per day during which such contravention continues”. The June 2014 state Ground and Surface Water Resources Data Centre statistics show that barring Chennai and a few other districts, ground water level in as many as 19 districts has decreased substantially compared to previous year’s data.

The worst-affected area is Pudukottai district where the groundwater level dipped to 1.74 metres (existing 7.29 meter) against the previous year’s 9.03 metres.

“The groundwater level depletion can also be attributed to poor rainfall in the region,” the official said.

Accordingly, the groundwater levels in southern districts of Theni, Sivaganga, Dindigul, Coimbatore and Trichy have also reduced to more than one meter. Even in Chennai, it dipped to 0.40 metre.