Groundwater issue: NGT pulls up Centre for failing to take steps

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) pulled up the Union Environment Ministry for failing to provide a report sought by the tribunal earlier, on the remedial steps to be taken to curb depletion of groundwater.

Noting that the NGT had earlier directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to constitute an expert committee and to issue an “appropriate policy for conservation of groundwater with robust institutional mechanism for surveillance,” the green panel observed that the Centre had failed to “perform its duty”.

“Unfortunately, the MoEF&CC has failed to perform its duty for which no explanation has been furnished. The committee has not yet given its report. We do not appreciate such attitude of government departments when under a statutory enactment violation of this Tribunal is a criminal offence,” observed a Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel.

The Bench also noted that the Ministry constituted the committee on March 29 despite directions to constitute it within two weeks January 3.

‘Matter of concern’

“Lack of sensitivity of serious issues of environment such as fast depleting groundwater is a matter of concern,” the Bench said.

Directing the committee to furnish the report by June 30, the Bench added, “If report is not so furnished, the Joint Secretary concerned of MoEF&CC may remain present in person before the Tribunal with the report and explanation why action be not taken for violation of orders of this Tribunal.”

Additionally, the NGT pulled up the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for providing an incomplete report on the assessment of environmental compensation to be levied for illegal extraction of groundwater.

“The compensation to be recovered for illegal extraction has to be deterrent specially when it is for commercial or industrial purpose and linked to the quantum of groundwater extracted and the period for which such extraction takes places. Scenario analysis with robust scientific logic is required for all the classes considered in comparable terms which have not been done in the present report,” the Bench said.

The CPCB was also directed to furnish the report on or before June 30.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 9:07:03 AM |

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