Chennai

HC to directly monitor bottling units in T.N.

The Madras High Court on Wednesday decided to monitor the functioning of all drinking water bottling units in the State directly by constituting a team of two advocate commissioners for each of the 32 districts in the State and directing the advocates to report to the court through the Principal District Judges (PDJs).

Justices Vineet Kothari and R. Suresh Kumar instructed the PDJs to select two advocates, with a minimum professional experience of 10 years, and empower them to visit all drinking water bottling units along with the district-level monitoring committees already constituted as per orders of Justice S.M. Subramaniam in 2018.

The advocates were directed to submit reports, along with photographs of the sites, to the High Court through the PDJs.

They were ordered to find out whether any bottling unit was involved in illegal drawal of groundwater, whether the seals put by government officials on illegal units were intact and whether all units had valid licences.

“If any such units are doing any illegal drawal of groundwater for their production activity, the said committee of two advocates with any member of the District Level Monitoring Committee will have right to visit the units concerned and make a report to be forwarded to this court through the Principal District Judge concerned.

“This arrangement may continue for the next six months, subject to further orders of this court,” the judges said and recorded the submission of Advocate General Vijay Narayan and Special Government Pleader J. Pothiraj that decisions shall be taken within 15 days on the applications for fresh licences and also for renewal.

Security deposit

However, taking note that a majority of the bottling units in the State had been functioning for years together without obtaining any licence as required under a Government Order issued in 2014, the judges directed that all applicants seeking either a fresh licence or renewal should make a security deposit of ₹50,000 for each unit.

“In case of any further default or non compliance of the terms of the licence/permission such as the necessity to fix flow meters to keep a tab on quantity of water extracted, the authority concerned shall be free to pass appropriate order, after giving an opportunity of hearing to the unit concerned, to forfeit the said security deposit amount,” the Bench said.

The judges also stated that the 64 advocate commissioners to be appointed across the State shall be paid an honorarium of ₹4,000 each for every month, at the rate of ₹2,000 for each fortnightly visit, by the district administration at the first instance and later on adjusted from the security deposit to be collected from the bottling units.

The Division Bench of the High Court further ordered that all those illegal bottling units which had not yet been sealed by the government officials must also be brought under the net and shut down until they applied for a licence and obtained it after following the due process of law.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 2:08:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/hc-to-directly-monitor-bottling-units-in-tn/article30985637.ece

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