Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding industrial units extracting groundwater in without requisite permission, Sonepat, Haryana, 18/08/2022

  • 18/08/2022

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Varun Vs Central Pollution Control Board & Others dated 18/08/2022.

The grievance in the application is that despite the NGT order, March 5, 2021 which found that the industrial units in question functioning at Barhi industrial area in district Sonipat, Haryana were violating the environmental norms by illegally extracting ground water, remedial action has not been taken. Compensation was assessed but instead of being recovered and spent for restoration, the same has been waived arbitrarily for "extraneous reasons" the applicant said.

The Haryana State Pollution Control Board in its reply, July 30, 2022 stated that initially compensation was assessed by the State PCB on account of the violations of the units in question in the matter of extraction of ground water. Against such assessment, representation, February 25, 2021 was filed by Industrial Association, HSIIDC BARHI named as Barhi CETP Association before the Deputy Commissioner, Sonepat to the effect that they have already applied for NOC before March 31, 2020.

The Deputy Commissioner sought response from the PCB and the Deputy Commissioner formed a Committee of Hydrologist, Rohtak and Regional Officer, HSPCB, Sonepat under the supervision of Additional Deputy Commissioner. The Committee held that units withdrawing ground water without valid NOC were liable to pay compensation but if they had applied for NOC before March 31, 2020, the compensation was not liable to be paid.

Contention of the applicant is that liability to pay compensation cannot be waived only on the ground that application for permissions are filed by any specified date and such permissions are later granted. Accountability has to be fixed for the past illegal extraction impacting environment when the area is ranked as ‘over exploited’ by the CGWA.

The NGT, August 18, 2022 directed Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has been asked to submit its response for waiving off compensation for illegal extraction of groundwater merely on the ground that application for such permission has been later filed. CGWA must also explain the grant of permission to extract groundwater in over-exploited areas without requisite safeguards.

The Tribunal directed the Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) to file a report on a "comprehensive water management strategy" which would help in preventing pollution and use of potable water for industrial purposes.