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Punjab govt opens door for industry in water-stressed zones

Plans to levy Groundwater Extraction Charge -- minimum of Rs 4 per 1,000 litres in green zone for upto 10,000 litres per day to maximum of Rs 22 per 1,000 litres in orange zone for over 1 lakh litres

Water Today

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Punjab is preparing to allow the industry, including the water guzzling, in yellow and orange zones with its recently constituted Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRDA) planning to levy Groundwater Extraction Charge on the units. The charge ranges from a minimum of Rs 4 per 1,000 litres in green zone for the volume up to 10,000 litres per day to a maximum of Rs 22 per 1,000 litres in the orange zone for the volume exceeding 1 lakh litres per day.

The PWRDA, has sought objections from the public on the draft Punjab Groundwater Extraction and Conservation Guidelines 2020 under which the state body would allow setting up of industry in these areas. Earlier, the industry needed permission from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), which had not allowed any industry in yellow and orange zones for last couple of years.

With the state government setting up its own authority now, its permission will be mandatory for extracting groundwater by every user in Punjab for commercial and industrial purposes. The Authority has exempted extraction of groundwater for agriculture and related activities and for drinking and domestic usage. The charges levied on the industry will be based on water meters to be installed by all users.

The state has been divided into three zones according to exploitation of groundwater including green, yellow and orange. The highest groundwater charges apply to the orange zone, which is the most water stressed and the lowest charges are in the green zone.

Arunjit Singh Miglani, secretary PWRDA told The Indian Express that the objective of the Authority was aimed at promoting positive water balance and ensuring requirements of livelihood by setting up the industry. A portion of the groundwater charge will be utilised for implementing water conservation schemes. In case users opt for implementing water conservation measures on their own, then they will be eligible for a water conservation rebate that will be reduced from the charges.

“The user will be asked to recharge the ground water in different zones. He will be encouraged not only to recharge the water in his premises but even outside of his industry. For instance, we would like him to discourage farmers from sowing water guzzler paddy and diversify to other crop. By doing this he will be incentivised.”

The user can also get rebate by supporting efficient use of irrigation water, recharge of canal water, improvement of natural recharge through drains, stormwater harvesting in urban areas, and rejuvenation of ponds.

As per the guidelines, the authority has proposed to create three zones of assessment areas for availability of water in 138 blocks of the state based on 2017 assessment report of Central Ground Water Board (CGWB). According to the assessment report, as many as 29 blocks classified as safe, semi-critical and critical have all been clubbed in the green zone since the stage of groundwater development was less than 100 per cent, meaning the water being drawn was less than the water being recharged.

The overexploited category, as per the 2017 report, has been bifurcated into two zones: The yellow zone consists of 65 blocks with a stage of groundwater development between 100 per cent and 200 per cent, and the orange zone comprising 44 blocks with a stage of groundwater development of 200 per cent or higher.

Since the guidelines propose to achieve a positive water balance by conserving more water than is extracted, all units in yellow and orange Areas (including new units and expansion cases) will also be provided permission to extract ground water, and they will have higher targets for conserving water. These targets for water conservation can be met either by the unit’s own efforts or by paying the full charge for groundwater extraction. In the latter case the water conservation activities shall be implemented by public agencies designated by government.

The charges will be Rs 8 per 1,000 litres of extraction upto 10,000 litres every day, Rs 18 for 10,000 to 1 lakh litres and Rs 22 for 1 lakh litre for industry in orange zone. I yellow zone, these charges would be Rs 6, 14 and 18. In green zone these charges would be Rs 4, Rs 10 and Rs 15 respectively.

If the industry is able to meet the target of water conservation, it would be given a rebate of Rs 4, Rs 12 and Rs 14 for orange zone, Rs 3, Rs 10 and Rs 12 for yellow zone, and Rs 2, Rs 7 and Rs 10 for green zone.

However, in case a unit does not conserve water, a designated government agency shall do so, and the unit shall pay the gross charges.
For setting up a unit before March 31, the authority has kept a special provision of reducing all the proposed Ground Water Charges (including the Rebate) by 20 per cent in view of the Covid- 19 epidemic.

For unauthorised extraction of groundwater without appropriate permission from the authority the unit will have to pay compensation charges ranging between Rs 8 and Rs 44 per 1,000 litres per day for different categories of users and areas.

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by Water Today staff and is generated from news feeds. Source: The Indian Express

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