PUNE: City-based groundwater experts have drafted suggestions and objections on the newly released notification on the Maharashtra Groundwater (Development and Management) Rules 2018, by the State government’s water supply and sanitation department.
They will submit them to the department soon. The experts said the notification is not comprehensive. Its scope needs should be widened.
Ravindra Sinha, convenor of the Mission Groundwater, said, “Our suggestions focus on a more participatory approach in the protection, recharge, conservation and sustainable use of groundwater and its sources. We have suggested that the roles and responsibilities of urban local bodies should be well defined as nearly 60 per cent of Maharashtra is urbanised and groundwater is the lifeline for many urban areas. The use of permeable surfaces, protection of natural recharge areas, encouraging public participation and amendment of development control rules to protect and preserve groundwater and its sources are required.”
“Impetus to capacity building and skill development of all concerned government agencies is essential to ensure implementation and governance of the rules. An important suggestion is to enable technology to measure and govern groundwater. Therefore use of water meters, use of GPS, mobile app-based registration of groundwater sources and a toll-free number for information and complaint lodging mechanism is needed. Our another key suggestion is for the formation of a ‘Groundwater Department’ in every local body,” Sinha added.
Shailendra Patel, from Jaldevata Seva Abhiyan, said, “There are no proper maps of natural springs or borewells in the state. So, we have suggested that there should be authentic maps as data does not match with the actual number of natural springs and borewells.”
City-based expert Upendra Dhonde said, “Ideally, all clauses in the draft are correct but realistically, it will be very difficult for the government to implement them. Because they do not have proper system to implement them. They are short of staff and the existing staff will not be able to have a stronghold over this law. Hence, we have suggested that they should conduct training programmes, appoint NGOs, outsource agency who will work along with the government.”
“The same had happened in Delhi a few years ago and they failed drastically to implement it because the system overall is not ready. There should be trained network of people which is not available and the same will happen in Maharashtra,” Dhonde added.