NOC must for commercial use of groundwater in Karnataka

Karnataka govt makes NOC mandatory for commercial use of groundwater

As per the notification by the KGWA, all industries and commercial entities utilising borewell water must register on the online portal by April 30

All industries and commercial entities utilising borewell water must register on the online portal by April 30.

After years of wait, the state government has come up with a rule to monitor the exploitation of groundwater by notifying the Centre’s guideline that makes a no-objection certificate (NOC) mandatory for use of borewell water by all industrial and commercial entities.

It also introduced minor restrictions to domestic use.

As per the notification by the Karnataka Ground Water Authority (KGWA), all industries and commercial entities utilising borewell water must register on the online portal by April 30. 

Ravindrappa, director of KGWA, said the guidelines were issued by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA). "Groundwater has been treated as free for years, leading to overexploitation. Some districts have reached critical levels due to unchecked drawing of water. Now, we will start imposing a fee on those exploiting it for commercial or industrial purpose. Those who fail to register will face action," he said.

The guidelines have been issued after approval by the National Green Tribunal and make an NOC mandatory for all residential apartments and group housing societies that require more than 20,000 litres of water per day.

In such cases, NOC will be issued only if local government agencies are "unable to supply" the water. Even then, such societies should show that they are using treated sewage water for toilets, gardening and other non-potable uses.

As per the guideline, no new industry will get permission to use groundwater. Commercial entities have to submit yearly audit report giving details of the use of groundwater. Independent agencies will verify their compliance.

Exemptions

Agriculture borewells, individual domestic consumers, rural drinking water supply schemes, armed forces borewells and even Micro and Small Enterprises drawing less than 10,000 litres per day have been exempted from registrations.

A retired engineer, who worked with the state government in the underground water sector for more than 15 years, said the exemption given to MSMEs was a huge mistake on the part of the government.

"There are thousands of MSMEs which are exploiting groundwater and do not even declare it. Many are drawing ten times the ceiling prescribed by the government only to process the water and sell it in bottle in Bengaluru. The government's rule will embolden them," he said.

He said the government needs to understand the hydrological regime at village level to address issues of inequality-equity-equality of its distribution. "The empirical approach being used since several decades do not hold key to address present and future legal framework. Big data analytics and artificial intelligence should be put to use to assess the consumption patterns and regulate the supply," he said.