Major infrastructure and redevelopment projects and several government offices and clubs in Mumbai have been using lakhs of litres of groundwater daily through water tankers for several years now. However, neither the tanker owners nor well owners have any NoC from the central groundwater authorities to extract and sell it for commercial or public purposes.
The documents obtained by groundwater activist Sureshkumar D mainly through RTI, suggest that so far the Central Groundwater Authority (CGWA) has not extended powers to any state agency to issue NoCs to well and tanker owners and fine them in case of breach of law. This is because the state water supply and sanitation department is yet to frame its own rules in line with the CGWA guidelines.
The state has apprehensions as to whether the abstraction fees, penalties and compensation to be given by well and tanker owners will be deposited with the state or the Centre. Meanwhile, the Mumbai Water Tanker Association has said that they are supplying water to metro rail, coastal road, Nhava-Sewri sea link, slum/building redevelopment and flyover projects besides establishments such as Naval Docks, Western and Central Railway, Mumbai Port Trust, Mantralaya, BEST, Cricket Club of India, Airport, and municipal and private gardens.
As per basic conditions to obtain NoC for extraction of water, the well owner or tanker owner has to have the ownership of around 200 square metres (2,153 sq ft) of land. However, the association has said it is next to impossible for their members to do so given the financial and geographical limitations in Mumbai.
Source: Times of India
Photo courtesy: Representational image/ Hindustan Times