Affidavit by the Ministry of Jal Shakti on groundwater guidelines issued on September 24, 2020

Affidavit on behalf of Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MOJS) and Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) regarding groundwater management in India dated 01/02/2021. The applicant (Devidas Khatri) had sought for the quashing of the notification issued by the Ministry of Jal Shakti dated September 24, 2020.

The affidavit stated that the new guidelines have been framed by the Ministry of Jal Shakti to enable Central Ground Water Authority to carry out the function of regulation and control of groundwater management and development. The Supreme Court "held in the past that the Court cannot interfere in the policy of State", the affidavit said.

The applicant had requested for reconsideration of the policy of September 24, 2020 for ensuring a proper recharge mechanism to be adopted by each defaulting unit and prevention of unauthorised extraction of groundwater. And also for recharge policy adoption by industries for restitution.

The affidavit informed the NGT that all safeguards for the protection of the environment by carrying on the activity of groundwater, have been taken into account in the new guidelines. The petitioner through this application is targeting industries, but is ignoring the fact that the livelihood of millions of workers is dependent on these industries and that the economic development of the country needs to be balanced. Further, the "precautionary principle" and "polluter pays principle" were taken into consideration while framing the new guidelines.