File photo: Boring machine

Rituraj Borthakur

GUWAHATI, April 7: Even after nine years of enacting the Assam State Ground Water (Control & Regulation) Act that seeks to regulate and control the development and management of groundwater in the State, the government is yet to notify the rules under it.

As a result, rampant and unregulated boring for extracting groundwater continued in the State, amid fears that the water table in many stretches of Guwahati, where high-rises have been mushrooming and public water
supply is in pathetic state, might be depleting.

At a recent official meeting, the State Chief Secretary expressed grave concern that the matter of regulating groundwater extraction and usage is yet to be streamlined. “It is, therefore, necessary to notify the rules under the Act at the earliest to regulate the extraction of groundwater in the city as well as in other districts,” he noted.

Sources said following the meeting, an inquiry was carried out in nine random high-rises of the city where groundwater is extracted. None of them had any permission from any agency to do so.

Also, a drive was carried out by the transport department and 49 cases of violation by water tankers were detected in the last four weeks. Some of the vehicles have been seized and penalty imposed. Many of the mini vehicles did not have any permission to operate.

It is learnt that neither the GMC nor PHE or any other agency like Assam Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Board issues any no objection certificate for extraction of groundwater for commercial purpose. The Central Ground Water Board has been issuing permission for extraction of groundwater only for infrastructure and industrial purpose.

Sources said the process of framing the rules under the Assam State Ground Water Act was initiated in 2016. Several rounds of discussions were held with stakeholder departments. Draft rules were also prepared and circulated to the departments for their views. These very draft rules are likely to be placed before the next cabinet.

Sources in the Central Ground Water Board said it is not easy to get an exact picture of the groundwater level in Guwahati, given the existing mechanism of monitoring and rocky under-layers below the Earth’s surface. Currently, monitoring is done mostly in dug wells.

“We are planning to install some piezometers in the city soon for better monitoring of the groundwater level,” the sources said.