A British era law providing absolute rights to people over groundwater is proving to be a stumbling block for the government. The law is an impediment on all initiatives to check over-exploitation of the precious resource.
Alarmed by fast-dipping groundwater levels across the country, the government is contemplating amending the 125-year-old Indian Easement Act and providing a comprehensive policy framework in the 11th Five Year Plan for this purpose. The framework will entail considering levying a cess on groundwater extraction (read commercial use) to be spent on its recharge.
Echoing hydrologists' concern over groundwater, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia admitted the country lacked a "sensible groundwater management policy". Talking to HT, he said an expert panel headed by Kirit Parekh was studying the subject.