PRADESH WATER, LAND AND TREES ACT, 2002
The Act came into force on July 1, 2002 with an objective
of promoting waste conservation and tree cover and regulating
the exploitation and use of ground and surface water for protection
and conservation of water sources, land and environment and
matter connected therewith.
The Act has a clear-cut section on definition of various terms
used. The term 'over exploited basin' means a ground water basin
sop declared by the Authority on the advise of the technical
expert who considers the quantum and pattern of rainfall, degree
of extraction of ground water and any other relevant factor
while advising the Authority.
'Preservation of trees' includes planting of new trees and transplanting
trees to other sites including protection measures such as fence
tree guards etc. 'To fell a tree' includes burning, cutting,
debarking, girdling and release of harmful chemical and such
other potations, which may damage any part of the tree guards
The Act under Sec. 3 establishes the Water, Land and Tree Authority
with designated Officer, who shall administer the provisions
of the Act. The members of the Authority shall consist of the
Minister of Panchayat Raj and Rural Development as the ex-officio
chairperson along with three MLAs, nominated by the Government
of whom one shall be from the main opposition party.
The Chief Secretary to the Government shall be the Vice Chairperson
with the Secretary to Agriculture, Irrigation, Science and Technology
as ex-officio members. Interestingly the Act brings three professors
from Life Science, Engineering and Technology from the Universities
as members. The Authority shall also have as members three experts
from soil conservation and economics and not exceeding five
members who shall possess expertise in natural resource management
either of them could be from SC and ST or women.
The Authority shall have functions, for which it may appoint
officers and servants. The functions are to:
a) promote water conservation and enhancement of tree cover
in the State.
b) Regulate the exploitation of ground and surface water
c) Make regulations for the functioning of authorities at the
District and Mandal Level
d) Advise the Government on legislative and administrative and
economic measures, from time to time, as incentives or disincentives
relating to taxes, levies, fee or other charges to promote conservation
of natural resources.
e) To advise on strengthening Public Participation in Conservation
of Natural Resources
The Authority may, if it deems fit delegate any of its powers
to the local bodies.
Groundwater Protection Measures: All ground water resources
in the State shall be regulated by the authority. All owners
of well/water bodies shall get themselves registered under the
authority. The designated officer, with the approval of the
Authority may prohibit water pumping on such area, likely to
cause damage to the ground water level -for a period of six
months after which review may be extended for a further period
of not more than six months at a time. The Authority may also
direct the stoppage of collecting electricity bills or taxes,
during that period when such pumping of water was disallowed.
No person shall sink any well within 250 metres of an area of
public drinking water sources. Such wells shall not include
those wells, which draw water from hand pumps. Such sinking
of wells must take prior permission of the Authority. Unless
otherwise provided for the Andhra Pradesh Electricity Board
could not grant power supply, if it deems that such wells would
adversely affect public drinking water sources.
The Authority may declare a particular water basin as over
exploited area and may impose restriction on sinking new wells
for six months. The Authority may frame guidelines for management
of water in these scarcity areas. This guideline could stipulate
the number of wells in the areas, the depth of the well and
distance between the two adjoining wells. The Authority is
empowered even to ban the extraction of water from wells for
commercial, industrial and irrigation use for six months based
on the advice of the Technical Committee. In all these, irrigation
and standing crops shall be given priority. The Authority
may also give a reasonable opportunity of hearing to the parties
affected. For the above purpose the designated authority shall
have the power of entry and inspection, including taking samples
Every Rig owner shall register his machinery and maintain
a register of this work. If it appears to the Authority that
any person is contravening this provision of the Act, it may
close down his well either temporarily or permanently. If
close down permanently, the owner shall be paid compensation
on market value based on acquired land under the Land Acquisition
Surface Water Protection Measures: The Act stresses
on the optimum utilization of water in the Irrigation sector.
To this end it may direct the occupier of any land to modify
the cropping pattern to suit the water quality and availability.
A social effort is also made in the Act for the conservation,
preservation of lakes, ponds and tanks, permanent demarcation
of area around these wetlands and obligations to remove encroachments,
while making efforts to rejuvenate the aesthetic beauty of
these tanks. The Authority may also frame guidelines for sand
mining in an environmentally friendly manner.
Trees: The Act asks Municipal bodies to have compulsory
tree plantation as an essential part of town planning. Felling
of trees or branches is not permitted without prior permission
and if done shall be immediately compensated by planning not
less than two seedlings. Tree plantation should also be encouraged
in schools, colleges, government premises, roads, public departments
and premises. All agricultural landowners except small and
marginal and wetland owner shall plant trees up to 5 per cent
of their land holdings and permission shall not be given for
felling unless this limit is maintained. For calculation of
this 5%, fruit bearing horticultural crops shall be included.
Any aggrieved individual may appeal against the order decision
of the authority within 30 days of the receipt of such orders.
'Contravention' of any provision of the Act would invite fine
from one thousand to five thousand rupees. His would include
even abetment. If any person or group pollutes, obstruct,
encroaches, damages any public water body or resource, s/he/they
shall be punished with imprisonment upto six months and fine
up to Rs. 50,000.
The Authority shall also have the power of seizure and confiscation
after a notice is given of such intention. The Act repeals
the A.P. Ground Water Act 1996. is laudable as it covers Prevention
and Conservation of Natural Resources. The Act is clearly
sensitive in regulating ground water, where it regulates all
extraction except those for drinking purpose. The Act also
encourages public participation in resources management and
in the long run shall show results. The Act has less 'command
and control' regime and looks at better utilization and equitable
distribution of resources among all.