Members of the Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association observed a day-long hunger strike in Chennai on Tuesday, demanding their units be exempted from the norms of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).

All 901 units across the State, including a total of 323 units in and around Chennai, were closed as a mark of protest. The demonstrations were held in seven other places — Krishnagiri, Tiruchi, Madurai, Vellore, Coimbatore, Cuddalore and Tirunelveli.

According to a direction of National Green Tribunal, the packaged drinking water manufacturers have to apply for consent from TNPCB to operate the units. However, the members said, the packaged drinking water industry was not a polluting one and the units do not use any aggressive chemicals in treating groundwater.

The association’s patron, V. Murali, said most of the units are small-scale. “The units must be spread over an area of a minimum of 2.50 acre to get consent from the TNPCB. Most of the units are set up in an area less than one acre. The State government must treat this as an essential industry and provide exemption from obtaining the consent of TNPCB,” he said.

The association’s president, K. Rajaram, said the units had already got licences from the Bureau of Indian Standards. “The State government must allow the units to draw water from the existing locations without having to approach Public Works Department for their clearance. We have submitted our petition on the issue to the government,” he said.