Editorial: Precious resource

The National Green Tribunal has issued notice to the Union government and the Central Pollution Control Board on a plea seeking quashing of a notification on groundwater extraction on the grounds that its commercial use was adversely affecting the flow of rivers and availability of drinking water in the country.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) was repeatedly issuing notification liberalising ground water extraction in water scarcity areas in spite of the need for stringent action, contrary to the very purpose for which it was setup.

It said that there was no effective mechanism to check violation by recovery of adequate compensation which was laid down by this tribunal based on expert studies. “We find that the impugned order is statutorily appealable under Section 16 (g) of the NGT Act, 2010. Thus, instead of an application, proper remedy of the appellant is an appeal. We direct conversion of the application to Appeal.”

The Registry may accordingly register the matter as Appeal. We are of the view that there are arguable points which are raised in the appeal which will require reconsideration. The appeal is admitted. Issue notice to the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the bench added.

The NGT also issued notice to the CPCB, and said water is a scarce resource on which life is dependent and its extraction has to be duly regulated. In areas where there is water scarcity, extraction can be allowed on stringent conditions of ensuring recharge, it added.

The appellant may serve notices with complete set of papers and file an affidavit of service within one week. The response may be filed within six weeks, the bench added.

The tribunal said this while hearing a plea filed by environmentalist Devi Das Khatri challenging the notification issued by CGWA which issued guidelines to regulate and control the ground water extraction in the country under Section 3 (3) read with Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

The plea said that extraction in scarce water areas for commercial purposes was against the principle of ‘Sustainable Development’. Water is a precious resource and there should be a uniform policy for monitoring ground water recharge mechanism and to check the depleting ground water levels in the country.

 

NT Bureau