According to Section 3(2) and Section (5) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, permission to extract groundwater granted to industries in Sikkim must be documented and reasons assigned by the Central Ground Water Board. The grant of permission while a PIL is pending surprised a Division Bench led by Chief Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari and Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai, who noted that the Board is a creature of the statute and must follow its provisions. The Court noted, "Taking serious note of non-compliance," Neither they nor their Officers have proposed anything to demonstrate true compliance in spirit. The Court is also concerned about how far the extraction of that water is permissible and what steps the authorities took to check it, as well as compliance with the no objection condition." It also stated that all permissions would be subject to the Court's order and that anyone who violated it would be held liable.
"This makes it appear that the Central Ground Water Board and its Authorities did not specify a reason for granting no objection to extracting groundwater, and conditional permissions were granted in the absence of such a reason. Whether the conditions stipulated in those permissions were met or not is not recorded; however, we cannot commend the Authority's performance in this regard."
Trying to decide on a critical issue involving groundwater extraction despite the availability of sufficient surface water, it sought an explanation from the Central Ground Water Board as to why permission was granted to 22 companies to extract groundwater despite the availability of sufficient surface water. It also stated that the permission granted to these companies was conditional, and there is no proof of compliance; however, the Regional Authorities have expressed satisfaction. It mentions When it comes to verifying whether or not the specified condition has actually been met, who does the Authority turn to?
Tags : #SikkimHighCourt #GroundWaterExtraction #EnvironmentProtectionAct,1986