The approval of Goa Ground Water Policy making it mandatory for well owners to register water sources and install meters has drawn criticism from some stakeholders as they alleged that these requirements will affect their business. The state cabinet adopted the Goa ground water policy on March 13 and Parsekar’s clarification follows doubts raised by many that the government would impose tax on all drinking water wells in Goa. The state Government has approved the policy in connection with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before the high court of Bombay at Goa praying that measures be evolved through a policy to regulate use of groundwater. The petitioners had alleged unregulated exploitation of groundwater sources in some areas.
As per the policy, the government is trying to ensure that all existing wells and ones to be dug are registered mandatorily and proper records can be maintained. Tankers, supplying from groundwater sources, will have to avail passes issued by groundwater officers in both districts. The policy envisages installation of pumps in wells to prevent sourcing of water bypassing the use of meters, amidst allegations of excessive exploitation of water for commercial purposes, by mining companies and others.
Answering queries posed by media persons Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said, Rumors that the government would impose tax on all wells in Goa, Government will not impose any kind of drinking water wells of domestic consumers or on well farmers, the tax will only be levied on wells used for commercial purpose like those by tankers to sell water to hotels and industry.
Private tanker owners who held a meeting on Saturday in Sangolda stated that they are willing to cooperate with the government, but the policy has been drawn without taking them into confidence. Around 500 owners of wells and private tankers depend on this occupation for their livelihood.
Santosh Korgaonkar, President of Goa water tankers and well owners said, “We are not against regulation of groundwater use but we have not been heard before finalizing the policy”. He further stated that the tanker owners face high quantum of taxation as they are charged by the water resources department for registration as well as drawing of water, while the transport department also levies taxes for transportation of water for supply.
Adding further Korgaokar said, “The operational costs are high and the fixing of meters and other requirements will push up the cost for the consumers, some of whom are middle-class people constructing their houses. The tanker owners have to pay substantially for registration of their vehicles, insurance, transportation and the operational costs rise high. Any further burden will make it difficult for them to ply their trade” Congress has criticized the government’s move to tax owners of private wells.