Green Tribunal pulls up MoEF on groundwater depletion

The Ministry of Water Resources and all other authorities must cooperate and collaborate in the policy-making exercise to check depletion of groundwater, the tribunal said. File photo

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) pulled up the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for its failure to submit a report on framing an appropriate policy to conserve groundwater.

The Principal Bench of the NGT headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that fast-depleting groundwater was a matter of grave concern. The MoEF failed to perform its duty for which no explanation has been furnished, the bench said.

"No affidavit has been filed. On being asked, learned counsel for the MoEF has informed the Tribunal that the Committee was constituted only on March 29, 2019, and not within two weeks from January 3, 2019, as directed,” the bench observed.

Earlier, hearing a petition on depleting groundwater, the NGT had asked the MoEF to constitute an expert committee and frame an appropriate policy for conservation of water with the institutional mechanism for surveillance and monitoring.

The Committee did not make any significant progress. "Lack of sensitivity over such serious environment issues is a matter of concern," the tribunal said while directing the Committee to submit its report by June 30, 2019.

Earlier, the Tribunal slammed the Union Ministry of Water Resources for its notification issued on December 12, 2018. Instead of addressing the groundwater crises, it worsened it by liberalising extraction of groundwater for commercial purposes, observed the tribunal. It directed the MOEF to constitute an expert committee to address the issue.

The Ministry of Water Resources and all other authorities must cooperate and collaborate in the policy-making exercise to check depletion of groundwater, the tribunal said.

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