Guidelines/Criteria for evaluation of proposals/requests for ground water abstraction adopted by Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation has come into effect from November 16, 2015.
"The prime objective of the guidelines for evaluation of proposals/requests for the withdrawal of ground water, is to focus on a specific part of ground water management viz. ensuring sustainability of ground water both in terms of quantity & quality and also focus on land based management of ground water resources, looking into the variations of availability of water in different climatic regions and diverse hydrogeological conditions in various states of the country."
The Guidelines takes note of the latest assessment of the state wise ground water resources as on 31st March, 2011 is available at the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) website (http://cgwb.gov.in/documents/Dynamic%20GW%25).
As per the ground water resource estimates of 2011, out of the 6607 assessment units (Blocks, Mandals, Talukas, districts), 1071 over - exploited units, 217 critical units, 697 semi - critical units, 4580 safe units and 92 saline units have been identified across the country by Central Ground Water Board. The Annual replenishable ground water resources have been estimated as 433 Billion Cubic Metres (bcm). The Net Ground Water Availability is 398 bcm and the overall stage of ground water development of the country is 62%.
So far CGWA has notified 162 areas for the purpose of regulation of ground water development.
The District Administrative Heads (Deputy Commissioner / District Magistrate / District Collector ) in case of Administrative Block or Taluka, or the Head of the Municipality (in case of Municipal Area) of the notified areas in the country have been appointed as "Authorized Officers" by CGWA under Section 4 of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) (1986). The regulation of Ground Water development in Notified areas is through district administrative heads assisted by Advisory Committees under the provisions of Section 4 of the EPA, 1986.
All issues pertaining to granting of NOC's for ground water withdrawal, checking violations, sealing of ground water abstraction structures, launching of prosecution against offenders, attending to complaints, etc., are to be addressed by the Authorized Officers. i. These guidelines supersede all the earlier guidelines with effect from 16/11 /2015. The guidelines for abstraction of ground water in Notified/Non - Notified areas for various users have been provided in the Guidelines.
If CGWA can enforce it, this is a step in the direction of stopping the unsustainable mining of groundwater. It should have provided for measuring and monitoring mechanisms for groundwater recharge as well. Groundwater being a state subject will be applicable to those states which have not adopted rules for regulation of groundwater.