Do you know that if you extract more than ten cubic litres of groundwater for industrial purposes, obtaining a CGWA NOC or a No Objection Certificate from the Central Groundwater Authority is mandatory? Yes, if you don't want to shell out lakhs of rupees as a fine, then getting CGWA NOC is highly recommended. Now, if you are clueless about what precisely this NOC is and how to get it, this article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on the CGWA NOC process. Let's delve into the details.
What is CGWA NOC?
CGWA NOC is the permission given by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) for groundwater drilling to commercial entities, such as industries, infrastructure, and mining. These businesses need underground water for various purposes, like industrial processes, drinking, and domestic use. To ensure the enduring longevity and purity of underground water, this permission is granted only when no sufficient public water supply or surface water source is available as per the CGWA NOC guidelines.
The Central Government had set up the CGWA after realising the pressing environmental concerns of a depleting underground water table that was also getting highly polluted. Hence, it constituted CGWA under sub-section (3) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, to control, manage, and regulate these issues. CGWA makes guidelines in 22 states and two union territories where the State Government or Union Territory administration isn't regulating groundwater management.
As common knowledge, groundwater is mainly needed for three purposes: domestic usage, dual usage (domestic and commercial processes), and agriculture. All kinds of industries comprising existing ones, new, or expanding units that draw or plan to draw groundwater using energised means must get permission from the Central Ground Water Authority. This becomes more important as about one-sixth of the country's assessed groundwater units are facing exploitation beyond means.
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Importance of Getting NOC From CGWA
The importance of getting a No Objection Certificate from the CGWA lies not only in ensuring legal compliance but also in safeguarding the environment and preserving our finite groundwater resources. Let's understand why getting NOC from CGWA is important.
The main significance of giving groundwater NOC is to enrich the CGWA's database. While the industries apply for the NOC, the registration facilitates easier water extraction monitoring. This database is valuable in identifying defaulters and promoting wastewater reuse, contributing to a more sustainable water management system.
Meeting Legal CGWA NOC Requirements
Business entities, whether they are companies, industries, or individuals looking to take out groundwater for commercial or industrial use, must secure a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Central Ground Water Authority. This certificate isn't just paperwork; it's a legal necessity ensuring that the extraction aligns with established laws and regulations. Unauthorised extraction of groundwater, lacking a valid NOC, is against the law and may result in penalties encompassing fines and imprisonment. This way, a more responsible and legal utilisation of this invaluable resource is promoted.
As far as taking environmental responsibility is concerned, CGWA takes center stage by carefully overseeing and regulating groundwater usage. Unchecked extraction poses risks like land subsidence and the intrusion of saline water into freshwater reservoirs. The vigilant monitoring of groundwater activities by CGWA aims to curb these negative consequences by nurturing sustainable and environmentally responsible practices. CGWA works hard to keep groundwater clean and free from pollutants. The NOC ensures that industries don't add any harmful toxins or chemicals to the groundwater, thereby maintaining its purity and quality.
Preserving a Non-Renewable Resource
Groundwater isn't an endless supply; it has limits. Over-exploitation, where withdrawal surpasses natural replenishment, can lead to depletion. CGWA's pivotal role involves monitoring and controlling groundwater extraction, playing a crucial part in resource conservation. By implementing measures to prevent overuse, CGWA contributes to the long-term availability of this non-renewable resource, ensuring it remains accessible for present and future generations. This way, it encourages businesses to adopt water conservation practices.
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How to Apply for CGWA NOC
The process to get this permission is not very complicated. Here's the step-by-step process to fill out the CGWA NOCAP (No Objection Application Form):
1. Initial data gathering:
Before starting your NOC application, keep in mind certain CGWA NOC requirements. Do collect specific information about how you use groundwater. This includes details about the depth and capacity of your borewell or tube well, the purpose of extracting groundwater, and its location.
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2. Verify your eligibility criteria:
Check CGWA's Eligibility Criteria Form to determine your eligibility for obtaining NOC from CGWA. Provide details such as your industry segment (Industrial, Infrastructure, Mining), the desired water quality (Fresh or Saline), whether you're establishing a new plant or extracting water for an existing one, and your location. Specify your industry or project type in more detail, such as Automobile, Aviation, Cement, Cotton, etc., or for industries, Hotels, Hospitals, Malls, etc., for infrastructure projects, or Coal, Iron ore, Limestone, etc., for mining activities.
3. How to fill CGWA NOC application form:
Apply for registration as a new user by providing basic details such as Name, Email ID, address proof, and ID proof. Create a username and PASSWORD during this process, which you must remember for future logins. Have your phone number ready, as you will receive a one-time password (OTP) for verification during registration.
4. Prepare your CGWA NOC documents:
Log in to your newly created account with all necessary documents for submission. The required documents vary based on the industrial segment and groundwater usage. Find the "New Application" option from the Menu bar, choose your industrial segment (Industrial/Infrastructure/Mining), and fill out the application along with the required documents, including a location map, proof of identity, proof of land ownership or lease, and a detailed project report (DPR) outlining your proposed groundwater use for the NOC approval process.
In addition to the above-mentioned documents, you also need referral letters from various authorities like MoEF&CC, SPCB, SEAC, SLEIAA, BIS, and FSSAI for a new business or expanding an existing one.
These letters must clearly mention how much water your industry needs for its specific processes.
You also need permission to operate (CTO) from the SPCB/PCC, a certificate showing that there's either no or only partial water supply available from the local water agency, and you have to pay a Water Conservation Fee to the State Government based on how much water you will be using. Do check out the list of documents needed for NOC here.
5. Application fee payment:
Pay the specified application fee set by the CGWA. The CGWA NOC fee amount may vary based on the purpose and quantity of groundwater extraction.
Post Application Process
After you have carefully filled out the application form and submitted it along with the CGWA NOC fees, wait to get that certificate after CGWA does its due diligence. The CGWA will verify and inspect the site to ensure the provided information matches the actual conditions. After a few days, you can track your application status using the official CGWA website. Visit the NOC Application Tracking Portal to check the status.
Once your application is approved, the CGWA will issue the NOC, granting you legal permission to extract groundwater as per the conditions specified in the certificate. Download your approved NOC from the portal. The CGWA publicly issues a list of companies for which NOC has been generated.
After obtaining the NOC from CGWA, an IoT-based Groundwater Monitoring System must be installed within 90 days.
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CGWA NOC Renewal Process
The term validity of the CGWA NOC varies depending on the various uses, such as mining, industries, infrastructure, etc. You must apply for its renewal 90 days before its expiry date. The CGWA has established certain guidelines for renewing NOCs for groundwater withdrawal, which are updated regularly on the website. This enhances the effectiveness of the country's groundwater regulatory system. However, there are certain conditions in which CGWA will not renew it. Let's quickly go through each of them.
- In areas with over-exploited groundwater, CGWA will not grant No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for new industries, except for those falling under the MSME category.
- Packaged water industries won't get NOCs in overexploited regions, even if these are MSMEs.
- New major industries won't receive NOC renewals or new NOCs in over-exploited areas unless according to the policy instructions.
- No issuance of NOCs for drawing groundwater in over-exploited areas by theme parks or water parks.
- Failure to comply with NOC conditions is a solid ground for cancellation or non-renewal.
Periodic renewal of the No Objection Certificate (NOC) is mandatory, contingent upon adherence to the following two conditions:
- Applicants must request the NOC renewal from CGWA a minimum of three months before its validity expires.
- The renewal periods differ for different usage and locations. It's five years for infrastructure projects and urban water supply agencies, three years for industries, two years for mining, and in specific instances, businesses operating in over-exploited areas will also renew it after two years.
CGWA NOC Renewable Fees
To renew the No Objection Certificate from CGWA, applicants are required to pay a processing fee of Rs. 5000/- for each application. All payments must be made online through the Non-Tax Receipt Portal here.
However, it's important to note that the processing fee is non-refundable. Consequently, applicants should verify the availability of necessary documents and their eligibility for submission before completing the online application. Accuracy in filling out all relevant details in the proper format is crucial, as an incomplete application will be declined with no refund of the processing fee.
Step-by-Step Guide for CGWA NOC Renewal Process
Here are the required steps for renewing CGWA NOC:
- Go to the online application link for NOC renewal.
- Select 'Applicant Login.'
- Input your login credentials.
- Complete the required details.
- Upload the necessary documents.
- Click 'Submit' to finalise the form; note that the application is only considered final upon successful submission. Once submitted, the application cannot be edited.
- A unique application number will be provided after successful submission.
- Applicants have the option to view the submitted Application Form and obtain a printout.
Penalty for Lapsed CGWA NOC Renewal
Drawing out groundwater for commercial purposes by infrastructure units, industries, and mining projects without a valid NOC from the CGWA is deemed unlawful. Consequently, these entities are obligated to remit Environmental Compensation corresponding to the amount of groundwater extracted. The minimum rates for Environmental Compensation in instances of CGWA NOC non-renewal shall not fall below Rs. 1,00,000.
To know your penalty precisely, click here.
How To Avoid Penalties:
As business owners, it's important to recognise the significance of conscientious water management, and so acquiring a NOC from CGWA goes beyond just a legal obligation.
You can also install smart water meters that are CGWA compliant. Kritsnam's Dhaara Ultrasonic Smart Water Meters are not only CGWA compliant but will also give you daily reports and alerts on your phone.
The CGWA consistently issues guidelines to assess proposals and requests for groundwater extraction, aiming to ensure groundwater's sustainable use in terms of quantity and quality. While giving NOC, it takes into account variations in water availability across different climatic regions and diverse water table conditions in various states of the country.
According to the November 2015 Guidelines, CGWA identified 162 critical/over-exploited areas where groundwater development is strictly regulated, allowing extraction only for drinking purposes. In non-notified areas, entities mentioned above can seek NOC for groundwater withdrawal, with CGWA's approval based on the nature of the assessment units.