Six States, including Punjab, have rejected a model bill aimed at conserving groundwater claiming that either it was too harsh on the people or that they required no such law.
The Ministry of Water Resources had drafted the ‘Model Bill to Regulate and Control the Development of Groundwater’ and circulated it to States in 1970.
It was re-circulated in 1992, 1996 and 2005 to the States and Union Territories to enable them to enact suitable legislation on the lines of Model Bill.
States including Punjab, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Nagaland have rejected the model bill for various reasons.
The bill proposes setting up of a Groundwater Authority in every State and Union Territory. The Authority will have powers to enter any government or private property and survey wells and groundwater resources.
People using groundwater, including wells, will have to seek its permission so that water resources are not exploited.
According to the Central Groundwater Board, Punjab prepared ‘The Punjab Ground Water (Control and Regulation) Act, 1998’ on the basis of Model Bill and submitted it to the Punjab State Water Resource Committee.
The Committee observed that the draft was “too harsh” on users and Model Bill was not in the larger interest of the farmers and suggested that a system of incentives for preserving water resources was better.
Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh Governments said it was not necessary to enact a legislation as of now as there was very low groundwater development in the two States.
Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur are the other states which have decided against enacting the law.
So far, 11 States and UTs have enacted and implemented the legislation, while 18 others are in the process of enacting the legislation.
States which have enacted the Ground Water (Control and Regulation) Act based on the model bill include Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Union Territories of Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Lashkadweep.