Industries May be Told to Pay for Water
Business Standard
January 31, 2008

New Delhi : Industries would soon have to pay for using groundwater. This was announced by Union Water Resources Minister Saifudin Soz here today.

Soz said a policy on usage of groundwater would be framed "at the soonest". His ministry had set up an expert committee to examine the issue following a campaign by the conservationists that the Indian industries were being allowed unbridled use of water resources without having to pay for it.

The campaign was triggered by a six-year-old conflict between the panchayat in Kerala's Plachimada village and the global beverage company Hindustan Coca-Cola over the latter's alleged over-extraction of groundwater for its soft drinks plant.

Soz said: "The committee has agreed that the industries should be charged for using the water and now we are in the process of fixing the rates for the same," The Cabinet would have to clear the policy, he added.

Besides, Soz said the Centre planned to launch a major national project for harnessing the developmental potential of major rivers across the country.

Under this, the Centre would pay about 90 per cent of the cost of the project for harnessing the river waters for activities including generation of electricity, navigation and drinking water.

Soz said the idea was to speed up several projects which were held up due to clearances and paucity of funds.

The national project on rivers has been recommended by a group of ministers (GoM) and the Cabinet is likely to okay it soon.

While Soz said the Teesta would be one of the rivers chosen for this project, a "scientific" criterion has been fixed for eligibility of all other rivers.

Soz had been advocating a policy for nationalisation of the water resources to sort out all the inter-state water disputes and to make optimum use of water resources of the country.

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