The Central Pollution Control Board has in its latest report on 'Assessment of Environmental Compensation in case of illegal extraction of groundwater' submitted before the National Green Tribunal suggested Environmental Compensation for groundwater (ECGW) for various categories based on illegal extraction of ground water in OCS (Over-exploited, Critical and Semi-critical) and safe areas.
"For drinking/domestic purposes, minimum EC suggested as Rs 10,000 (for households) and Rs 50,000 (institutional activity, commercial complexes, townships etc).
"For industrial activity minimum EC is suggested as Rs 1,00,000," says the report.
The report further suggests that, "The rate of Environmental Compensation for domestic and drinking purpose for individual household shall be charged at the rate Rs 100 per day for OCS categories (Over-exploited, Critical and Semi-Critical Category). Similarly, for safe category, the EC rate shall be charged as Rs 50 per day. Minimum environmental compensation for household shall be Rs 10,000".
The formula for calculating environmental compensation is:
ECGw= Water consumption per day x Environmental Compensation rate for illegal extraction of ground water (ECRGw) x No. of Days x Deterrent Factor
The water consumption would be in Cubic meter per day and the ECRGw in Rupees per cubic meter.
EC is purely based on illegal extraction of ground water in OCS (Over-exploited, Critical and Semi-critical) and safe areas. The rate of environment compensation will increase as the criticality of ground water availability in the area increases or amount of ground water extraction increases.
"The activities such as packaging drinking water, mining, industrial and others draw ground water to add commercial value to the products manufactured. Hence, these activities attract stricter provisions of deterrence and intergenerational equity," says the report which recommends a minimum fine of Rs 1 lakh for all such units.
The report came to be submitted in a batch of petitions moved by activists such as Vikrant Tongad who have been consistently fighting against illegal and unmindful extraction of ground water by residents, builders and various industries.
Commenting on the report, Tongad said it does not have any provision for environmental compensation from agricultural sector.
"It is not about burdening farmers. But covering agriculture sector would mean farmers adopting sustainable methods of farming and will cast a duty on the government to provide them better irrigation infrastructure".
The CPCB had on April 30 also submitted a report on ground water extraction but the Tribunal found that report lacking in various areas and called for a fresh report.
The Tribunal was of the view that the report did not deal with OCS areas where depletion of ground water affects the sub-terranean flow and results in contamination of ground water and also poses a potential danger for drying up of important natural resource in violation of established principle of "Intergenerational Equity".
It had also said that the compensation to be recovered for illegal extraction has to be deterrent specially when it is for commercial or industrial purpose and linked to the quantum of ground water extracted and the period for which such extraction takes place.
In compliance of the NGT directions with regard to intergenerational equity, the CPCB in its latest report said that "incidence of illegal extraction of ground water, regardless of the category of area (notified or non- notified) will attract the environment compensation".