Charges for extracting ground water in Punjab will be levied on all non-exempted users, including the industry, starting next month, with the state water regulation and development authority notifying directions in this regard.
The new directions, however, do not cover groundwater use for agriculture, drinking and domestic purposes, said an official statement here, adding that the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRDA) has notified Punjab Groundwater Extraction and Conservation Directions, 2023.
The directions also exempt government water supply schemes, military and central paramilitary establishments, urban local bodies, panchayati raj institutions, cantonment boards, improvement trusts, area development authorities and places of worship, it further said.
The exemption has also been provided to all users who extract groundwater less than 300 cubic metres per month, it added.
All non-exempted users shall have to submit an application to the authority for seeking permission to extract groundwater and the groundwater charges will start from February 1, said the statement.
The groundwater charges have been fixed to reflect the extent of groundwater stress in each block of Punjab.
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The blocks of Punjab have been categorised in three zones (green, yellow and orange) based on the extent of annual groundwater extraction in comparison to annual groundwater recharge for fixing the groundwater charges, it said.
According to the notification, in the green zone, the charges will vary between Rs 4 to Rs 14 per cubic metre depending upon the volume of extraction of groundwater.
In case of yellow zone, the charges will vary between Rs 6 to Rs 18 per cubic metre, and in case of orange zone, the charges will start from Rs 8 till Rs 22 per cubic metre.
The charges are meant for different categories of volume of underground water extraction which include more than Rs 300 till 1,500 cubic metres per month, over
Rs 1,500 till 15,000 cubic metres, more than Rs 15,000 up to 75,000 cubic metres and more than 75,000 cubic metres per month.
Besides, a non-refundable application fee for permission to extract water will also be charged, the notification said.
The PWRDA said the main objective of the directions is to improve the water balance by promoting and ensuring conservation of water by the users. The objective will be achieved by ensuring that all users permitted to extract groundwater shall pay volumetric groundwater extraction charges and such charges shall be utilised in part for conserving water.
The directions encourage users to conserve water through conservation schemes to be submitted for approval of the authority.
The authority will also fund public water conservation activities and projects to be implemented by various government departments, it said.
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