The packaging plants will remain shut until samples are tested and cleared

The National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, on Friday, directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and the Commissionerate of Food Safety and Drug Administration to inspect the 92 packaged drinking water units that were closed recently.

It has asked them to submit a report on May 27 after analysing water samples obtained from these units that are located in and around the city. Until then, the units should remain closed.

On March 5, the Tribunal Bench, comprising Justice M. Chockalingam and Prof. R. Nagendran, took note of an article in The Hindu revealing pollution and contamination in water packaged by some of these units. When served with a notice, authorities, including the TNPCB, filed replies.

It came to light that there were 121 packaged water units functioning in and around the city and, of them, only 23 had obtained valid consent from the TNPCB. Based on a direction from the tribunal, the TNPCB served closure orders on 92 units.

S. Balaji, TNPCB member-secretary, appeared on Friday before the Bench and filed an action-taken report stating electricity supply to 78 of these units had been disconnected. Power supply to the remaining units too would be discontinued shortly.

Taking up five applications filed by individual units and the South India Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers’ Association, Justice Chockalingam and Prof. Nagendran said, “We are not against closure of water packaging industries completely. Our only concern is that procedures and norms must be followed while processing the water.”

Prof. Nagendran said, “We are making the TNPCB follow the norms. Water packaging should be done as per standard procedures.”

The counsel representing the units said the packaged water they had been supplying until now met the required quality norms. There was no illegality or violation of any procedure. They sought a stay on the closure orders.

S. Saravanan, TNPCB’s counsel, said the closure orders should continue until the quality of water supplied by the units was certified.