Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding illegal drinking water units in Maharashtra, 19/10/2020

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Vijaysinh Dubbal & Others Vs MPCB & Others dated 19/10/2020.

The matter relates to manufacturing plants, units of drinking water jars and cans without obtaining consent to operate and selling unpackaged and unsealed chilled water jars and cans. These are not potable and thus hazardous to the health. The water used for chilling and then selling in cans and jars are taken from bore wells which can contain various impuritis like fungal growth, lead, chemicals, solvents etc. All such units are withdrawing much quantity of groundwater illegally, they do not take permission from Central Groundwater Authority (CGWA); their activities actually lead to not only groundwater depletion but also to contamination if released waste water has pollutants.

The NGT directed that: 

i. In the absence of no objection certificate from Central Ground Water Authority, no extraction of underground water should be permitted.

ii. The industries/units drying underground water every day with no obligation of recharge/rainwater harvesting must be stopped immediately. The industries/units must be asked to take a rational measures for recharge of the underground water/rainwater harvesting with due regard to the amount of underground drawn by it in last more than 4 years.

iii. The industries/units must be asked and show cause notice be issued to pay compensation for illegal withdrawal of underground water for last so many years

iv. The amount payable by the unit for withdrawal of underground water must be fixed on the principle ‘more the withdrawal higher the rates’ The charge which has not be paid for years must be recovered with interest at the rate of 12 % per annum.

v. The norms for recharge of underground water and rainwater harvesting etc., must be fixed. Flow meter must be calibrated by government agencies and verified atleast twice in a year.

vi. The unit encroaching upon the drains or diverting the untreated water into the drains must be asked to clear the encroachments and to ensure that no untreated water should be discharged in to the municipal drains and to ensure the free flow of the natural course of water.

vii. Actual requirement and use of underground water by the unit must be verified through independent Government agencies.

viii. All industries/units must be asked to maintained verifiable record of ETP waste and other solid waste generated from their units.

ix. Central Ground Water Authority and Central Pollution Control Board is directed to lay down a parameter of quality of water which are being supplied in bottles to the citizens and further to take necessary action in case it is not found of the standard quality.

The NGT also directed the matter to be placed before the Chief Secretary as to reply on the fact that more than hundreds units are operating in the state of Maharashtra without any permission from the competent authority and there is none to check these units. The Chief Secretary is directed that all the units which have no authority from the Central Ground Water Authority or NOC from the competent authority, must be sealed immediately and legal/penal action should be initiated. The Chief Secretary is further directed to take remedial measures to check, identify and to regulate the functioning of these units.