New Groundwater Usage Guidelines May Hit Industries

Existing plants to seek NOC before continuing usage; New rules may hurt units in areas which are critical or over-exploited

Business Standard
November 17, 2015

New Delhi: The new groundwater usage regulation is expected to hit various water-intensive industries as it expands to cover earlier establishments and manufacturing units. The guidelines that took effect on Monday, issued by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), requires existing units to seek a ‘no objection certificate' before continuing their usage of groundwater. First affected would be companies with manufacturing units in areas where groundwater is at critical critical or over-exploited levels.

Says Amit Srivastava of India Resource Center (IRC): “The guidelines are a significant step forward but a lot depends on whether CGWA will apply these in letter and spirit for existing industries in water-stressed areas, particularly over-exploited ones.”

It is time for the government to stop water-intensive industrial operations in such areas, as communities across India have been demanding for years. The new guidelines allow for such action immediately.”

Last year, IRC, among others, successfully fought beverages major Coca-Cola on a proposed bottling plant near Varanasi.

According to Srivastava, at least 20 to 25 plants of major beverage companies are in ‘over-exploited’ areas.

“Given our experience, we cannot expect that the government will take action on its own; it will have to be pushed. But, we now have a much better, legally tenable, path available to us, thanks largely to the community-driven movements across the country that has moved CGWA and the ministry of water resources to bring in stronger guidelines, applicable to all industries that mine groundwater,” he said.

E-mails to beverage companies PepsiCo and Coca-Cola did not get any response till the time this copy was sent to press.

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