In a landmark judgment on public health and the environment, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the closure of all water manufacturing units in Maharashtra that sell unpackaged drinking water, The Times of India reported.
The water manufacturing units in Maharashtra that are not in accordance with environmental rules and laws are also ordered to be shut down. The petition was originally based on a September 6, 2016 news report that found that water sold in unsealed and unpacked refrigerated jars and cans was unsafe to drink and hazardous to health. In addition, jars and cans of such drinking water were manufactured without mandatory consent to extract groundwater.
“This has led to the rampant abstraction of groundwater in various places of Maharashtra. Also, the unscientific discharge of rejected water by these units led to contamination of groundwater,” the petition added.
The green court order states that statutory regulators will determine “environmental compensation for illegal withdrawal of groundwater and non-compliance of other norms”.
What NGT said in the Judgment?
- No cold water cans or cold water container units in the state shall function without consent and compliance with environmental norms.
- NOC (No objection certificate) from CGWA (Central Ground Water Authority) is mandatory
- Existing units running without consent will be closed; standards for selling drinking water to be maintained
- CPCB and CGWA to work together and check whether such units are active in other states
“These units are operating without the consent of the Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board. Moreover, these units are not licensed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) or the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. They operate statewide and have become a major threat to public health,” the petition read.
Noting that potable water standards must be met, the NGT further advised that if such standards are not established for these units, appropriate regulators must prepare them within a month. “If other values are not defined, the BIS values will be followed. In addition, CPCB and CGWA should work together and form committees in different states to check and control similar activities,” added the order.