Around 1,000 packaged drinking water units do not have the mandatory consent from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), as per submissions of counsel before the National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, here on Monday. Only 153 units function with relevant consents, while 200-odd herbal water units without clearances were closed.
Clearances from the Public Works Department, Department of Food Safety and Drug Administration and the Director of Town and Country Planning are essential before applying to TNPCB for getting consent to establish by any unit.
The Bench, comprising its judicial member Justice M.Chockalingam and its expert member Prof. R.Nagendran made it clear that the units must undergo the pre-requisite formalities. “There is no compromise now,” said Mr.Justice Chockalingam.
Last March, the Tribunal had directed them to file a report after taking cognisance of a news item published in The Hindu revealing violation of basic safety parameters in such units.
Later, the Tribunal passed interim orders giving relief to the units to function till the TNPCB took call on their applications.
When the matter came up for hearing before the Tribunal, C.Seethapathy, counsel for Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufactures’ Association, contended that the Tamil Nadu Ground Water Development and Management Act, 2003, was repealed by an ordinance on September 14. Hence, the units were not required to get clearance from Central Ground Water Authority. He prayed the Tribunal to order the TNPCB to process the pending applications of units.
Rita Chandrasekar, counsel for TNPCB, submitted that 967 packaged drinking units were functioning in the State. Out of which, only 153 units had valid consent from the TNPCB and the remaining 814 units are without consent. As per the direction of Tribunal, the TNPCB could receive samples from 805 units and other units were closed.
She said the units should fulfil pre-requisite formalities before obtaining a ‘consent to establish’ from the TNPCB. Now units should first approach Public Works Department (PWD), owner of water bodies for clearance and then the units have to get a licence from Food Safety and Drug Administration after certifying the water quality.
The units also should approach the Directorate of Town and Country Planning for classification. On satisfying those formalities by the units, the TNPCB can process applications for granting consent to establish to those.