Wastage and misuse of potable water and groundwater will, henceforth, be a punishable offence in India.
In an important step in groundwater preservation in the country, the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, has issued Notification under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, after being so directed by the National Green Tribunal in Rajendra Tyagi & Anr. Vs Union of India & Ors., vide Order, dated 15 October 2019.
Akash Vashishtha represented the Petitioners Rajendra Tyagi and FRIENDS (NGO) in the matter, seeking to make water wastage and misuse a punishable offence in the country.
As per the Notification, the civic bodies dealing with water supply in all states and UTs, whether it is the Jal Board, Jal Nigam, Water Works Department, Municipal Corporation, Municipal Council, Development Authority, Panchayat or any other body shall be duty-bound to ensure that there is no waste or misuse of potable water tapped from underground and evolve a compliance mechanism, with coercive measures for violations.
The Notification further states that no person in the country shall waste or misuse potable water resources tapped from underground.
Any failure to comply with the notification, in each such incident of failure or contravention, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend to Rs 100,000, or with both, and in case the failure or contravention continues, with additional fine, which may extend to Rs 5,000 or every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction for the first such failure or contravention, under Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
The NGT had observed that in order to control wastage of potable drinking water there has to be specific timebound action plan and monitoring which should include coercive measures for enforcement.