Punjab to regulate groundwater



The Council of Ministers on Wednesday approved the creation of the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority, which will be empowered to issue directions on water extraction but will not be authorised to impose any restrictions or tariff on extraction of water for drinking, domestic and agriculture purposes.

The Cabinet, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, decided to promulgate an ordinance called the Punjab Water Resources (Management and Regulation) Ordinance, 2019.

The proposed legislation is aimed at development, management and regulation of water resources of the state for ensuring their judicious, equitable and sustainable utilisation and management, an official spokesperson told IANS after the Cabinet meeting.

The authority would be empowered to issue general directions related to extraction and use of groundwater, besides ensuring optimal and efficient utilisation of all water resources in the state, including canal irrigation. It will also issue guidelines on recycling and reuse of water and its conservation.

The legislation does not allow any restriction to be imposed on extraction of groundwater for drinking or domestic purposes. For drinking, domestic and agriculture purposes, the authority would be guided by the policy of the state.

It would, however, be required to issue tariff orders for use of water for industrial and commercial use.

Also, the Cabinet decided to revise charges for the use of river or canal water for purposes other than agriculture.

The proposed rates are on par with neighbouring state of Haryana, and the revision is expected to increase the revenue generated from water charges from the existing Rs 24 crore per annum to Rs 319 crore per annum, said the spokesperson.

The decision was taken in view of the fact the state needed to mobilise additional resources, including for maintenance of canal network, which is spread along 14,500 km and has deteriorated with passage of time.

Most of the distributaries and minors were lined 30-40 years ago during 1980s, and regular cleaning, twice a year, is required to run the canals efficiently so as to ensure authorised discharge at tail ends, added the spokesperson. IANS