Skip to main content

New groundwater guidelines "lack" measuring and monitoring mechanism, are "open to abuse" by Indian industry

By Our Representative
The India Resource Centre (IRC), which claims to have run a running campaign against the Coca Cola’s expansion plans for its bottling plant in Mehdigunj, Varanasi, for seeking to use groundwater in an area which was declared overexploited believes that the Government of India’s new guidelines for industrial use of groundwater in water stressed does have any “measuring and monitoring mechanisms for groundwater recharge, and the guidelines are open to abuse by industries.”
Seeking “a rigid measuring and monitoring system” to be articulated and implemented, the IRC, a Global Resistance project, in a statement has said, this shortcoming in the new guidelines is despite the fact that the “quantum of groundwater permitted” to industries has been made “contingent upon the amount of groundwater recharged by the industry.”
The new guidelines, brought by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) – the national groundwater regulatory agency – become effective on November 16, 2015. Despite this, the IRC believes, they are significant step forward “because they will apply to industries using groundwater regardless of when the industry was established.”
Pointing out that the one of the key demands has been “fulfilled”, which is to “hold beverage companies accountable for excessive and unsustainable groundwater usage across India” – something for which it has been campaigning for long – the IRC said along with its allies it had succeeded in getting Coca-Cola’s plans for expansion of its bottling plant in Mehdiganj, Varanasi rejected in August 2014.
“The older CGWA guidelines”, IRC said, “prohibited bottling operations in areas where the groundwater was declared as over-exploited – but only for new and expansion projects (defined as those after November 15, 2012, the date of the last guidelines).”
“Campaigns across India challenging unsustainable use of groundwater by industries that were established prior to November 15, 2012 were frustrated by the lack of tangible regulations that could be used to end the blatant abuse of groundwater resources, particularly in severely water stressed areas declared as over-exploited by the government”, the IRC said. 
 
It added, “Of particular note is Coca-Cola’s egregious bottling operation in Kala Dera in Jaipur since 2000 where the groundwater was declared over-exploited in 1998 and Coca Cola continues to mine groundwater even today despite the devastating consequences.”
“The latest guidelines could put an end to the excessive and destructive groundwater usage by industries that were ‘grandfathered in’ under the last guidelines”, the IRC said.
Under the new guidelines, all industries that use groundwater and do not have approval from the Central Ground Water Authority now have to apply to the CGWA to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for groundwater withdrawal “with immediate effect”.
The new guidelines also have a separate category for water intensive industries which includes more stringent regulations for groundwater usage by industries such as soft drinks, bottled water, breweries, distilleries, paper & pulp, fertilizers and others, and prohibit extraction of groundwater by such industries in over-exploited areas.
“The stricter regulations for water intensive industries are the result of various community-led campaigns across India against companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsico which have highlighted the unsustainable mining of groundwater in water stressed areas and sought restrictions”, IRC said.
However, it added, “The new guidelines are a significant step forward but a lot depends on whether the CGWA will apply the guidelines in letter and spirit for existing industries in water stressed areas, particularly over-exploited areas. It is time for the government to stop water intensive industrial operations in over-exploited areas, as communities across India have been demanding for years. The new guidelines allow for such action immediately.”
“Given our experience, we cannot expect that the government will take action on its own, it will have to be pushed. But we now have a much better, legally tenable path available to us, thanks largely to the community driven movements across the country that has moved the CGWA and the Ministry of Water Resources to bring in stronger guidelines applicable to all industries that mine groundwater”, it said.
Groundwater is a state subject in India, and the CGWA guidelines are applicable only to states that do not have well developed groundwater governance regimes.

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”