Directs TNPCB to ensure their closure

The National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, on Wednesday ordered the immediate closure of 252 packaged drinking water units across Tamil Nadu as they came under the ‘overexploited area’ category classified by the PWD. It also directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to ensure that they are closed until further orders.

The Tribunal took the major decision after receiving a status report from the Public Works Department (PWD). Last March, the Tribunal Bench took suo motu cognisance of a news report published in The Hindu highlighting certain grave violations by the units functioning in and around city.

When the authorities, including Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), started cracking on the units functioning without valid licence, the packaged drinking units association filed petition before the Tribunal seeking interim relief. The Tribunal passed interim orders allowing the units to function in public interest.

On an earlier occasion, the Tribunal made it clear that all units would have to get no-objection certificate from the PWD and clearances from the Directorate of Food Safety and Drug Administration and the Directorate of Town and Country Planning before applying to the TNPCB for getting consent to establish. When the matter came up hearing before the Bench comprising its judicial member, Justice M.Chockalingam and Prof.R.Nagendran on Wednesday, Abdul Saleem, counsel for PWD, said that so far 855 applications were received by the department for issue of NOCs. Referring to a GO pertaining to the extraction of ground water, he said that of the 855 applications, 252 applications came under the ‘overexploited area’ category and 570 applications came under the ‘semi critical’ and ‘safe category’ areas. He said that the 252 units could not be processed.

Since the 252 units fell under the ‘overexploited area’ category, the Bench directed that they be closed till such time necessary NOCs were obtained. The Bench said the applications of the 570 units could be processed and they could continue their operations.

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