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Unauthorised extraction of groundwater for commercial use criminal offence: NGT

A view of National Green Tribunal (NGT), in New Delhi. File

A view of National Green Tribunal (NGT), in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

There is no absolute right to extract groundwater for commercial purpose and doing so without authorisation is a criminal offence, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said on Friday.

The green panel said that it is the duty of the state pollution control boards to stop commercial extraction of groundwater by coercive means and recover compensation from violators.

The NGT observation came while hearing a plea filed by Haryana-resident Raj Kumar Singal alleging illegal extraction of groundwater and discharge of polluted water into drain by an industrial unit in Panipat.

“Ground water extraction has to be regulated having regard to safety of level of groundwater so that water bodies and e-flow of rivers are not affected,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said.

“Impact of such extraction on the environment is to be studied. There is no absolute right to extract groundwater for commercial purpose,” the NGT said.

The tribunal said that if anyone is found extracting groundwater, it is per se a criminal offence under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

It noted that the industrial unit in Panipat has been found to be extracting groundwater in the area and directed the Haryana State Pollution Control Board to take action against it.

“No doubt, the Ground Water Authority is an express authority for the purpose, at the same time, if the Ground Water Authority has not taken such remedial action, the State PCB is not debarred from exercising such jurisdiction,” the bench said.

It directed the Haryana State PCB to take appropriate action to asses and recover compensation following due process of law.

Illegal extraction of ground water may be stopped forthwith, the tribunal said.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 12:26:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/unauthorised-extraction-of-groundwater-for-commercial-use-criminal-offence-ngt/article32296283.ece

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