Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Stringent steps in Bill on ground water

Stringent steps in Bill on ground water

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Centre has provided for stringent measures, including “sealing” of over-exploited wells, in its Model Bill to Regulate and Control the Development and Management of Ground Water. The “sealed” wells would remain closed till they get recharged.

Only nine States and one Union Territory have enacted and implemented the Model Bill. These include Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Lakshadweep, Kerala, Pondicherry, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and the Union Territory of Chandigarh.

Nineteen States have taken the “initiative” to enact the Model Bill, while five north-eastern States and Punjab, feel there is no need to enact such a Bill.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal recently assured the Centre that he would consider the proposition, said Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz here on Monday. High rainfall and availability of adequate surface water does not “warrant” ground a legislation in the north-east.

This and other aspects of ground water, including the impact of industrial use of ground water for commercial use, its over-exploitation, and its pollution would be discussed at a National Ground Water Congress, to be inaugurated here on September 11 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. President Pratibha Patil will deliver the valedictory address.

Announcing this here, Mr. Soz said his focus was on conservation and management of ground water. Of the 5,723 areas studied in the country, the Central Ground Water Board has identified 839 areas which were over-exploited, 226 areas were “critical” and 550 areas were semi-critical and less than 70 per cent areas were considered “safe.”

Mr. Soz said the Ministry would soon place before the Cabinet its proposal on “Industry and Ground Water.” “Although more than 83 per cent water is used for irrigation, we are studying what the industry returns to the nation,” he said. Recently, the Associated Chambers for Commerce and Industry announced that it supported raising the cess for commercial use of ground water by industry.

The Minister said several awards had been instituted as incentives for people and NGOs to work on replenishment of ground water and for rain-water harvesting. The National Water Award and Bhumijal Samvardhan Award would be given to encourage NGOs, panchayats and local bodies for adopting best practices.

He also announced the launching of a Farmers’ Participatory Research programme in 5,000 villages with the help of 50 agricultural universities to produce more crop and income per drop of water.

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http://www.thehindu.com/2007/09/05/stories/2007090559761300.htm

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