A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging guidelines issued in January 2023 on the extraction and conservation of groundwater in Punjab..The petition filed by a lawyer, Dhruv Chawla (petitioner), contends that the Punjab Groundwater Extraction and Conservation Directions of 2023 fails in achieving its stated object of conserving water and that it falls afoul of the Punjab Water Resources Management and Regulation Act..Chawla has raised concern that Punjab is already slated to face a groundwater crisis. A 2020 block-wise groundwater assessment by the Central Groundwater Authority found that most districts in Punjab have over-exploited their groundwater resources."If the present depletion continues, Punjab's groundwater is expected to drop below 300 meters by 2039, as per Central Ground Water Board," the plea added..While so, the petitioner argues that the 2023 guidelines fail to the achieve the goal of water conservation, that they do not adhere to the principle of sustainable development, are ambiguous, and do not incentivise the conservation of water in any manner whatsoever. "To highlight a few points, neither is the credit system for water conservation devised by the Authority even remotely effective, since the amount of rebate provided in the form of water credits is extreme low, nor have the industries supplying treated groundwater to the irrigation sector, been given any effective incentive in the form of rebate/ credits in order for them to continue the said exercise," the plea explained..Notably, the Punjab Water Resources Development Agency (PWRDA) had initially issued draft guidelines in 2020. After considering public objections, it issued the final guidelines earlier this year, which have now been challenged by Chawla. .His plea highlighted that the draft guidelines initially included provisions on water saving schemes to be implemented in agriculture. This was also cited by the authorities while replying to several objections filed to the draft guidelines. However, these provisions were ultimately excluded from the final draft, the plea said. .Instead, industries have been overburdened with hefty extraction charges, without any mechanism being put in place for them to engage in water conservation, the petitioner argued. Moreover, the primary factor contributing to the depletion of the groundwater table is agriculture (almost 99%), the plea added. This has not been adequately addressed in the final guidelines of 2023, the plea said..In view of such concerns, Chawla has urged the Court to direct the State government authorities to either withdraw the Punjab Groundwater Extraction and Conservation Directions, 2023 or amend them so that they are more effective in tackling groundwater depletion in Punjab.It is also suggested that the authorities may be directed to ensure that the provisions concerning water conservation in agriculture (which were part of the draft guidelines) are incorporated into the 2023 guidelines. Further, the petitioner has prayed that the Court direct the authorities concerned to frame its policy against groundwater depletion after a detailed study on the subject.