Kerala

Legal opinion on water plant by April 19

Greens say plant causes huge depletion of groundwater at Silent Valley

Under pressure from environmental activists and tribespeople living at Mukkali, in the buffer zone of the Silent Valley National Park, the Palakkad district administration has decided to seek legal opinion to close down a mineral water bottling plant in the locality that allegedly plunders water resources apart from raising large-scale environmental concerns.

The bottling plant has been functioning there for the last one year flouting rules.

Last November, the Kerala High Court had directed the Palakkad District Collector to decide on the future of the unit.

Though the administration has taken no action since the court order, a public hearing was held on Thursday with District Collector P. Marykutty in the chair.

After hearing opinions of officials from the Groundwater Department, Pollution Control Board, Industrial Department, and local grama panchayats, the District Collector decided to seek legal opinion.

Tribal representatives, environmental activists, and company representatives also attended the meeting.

‘Silent Valley’ brand

The Collector instructed that legal opinion be sought by April 19 so that it could be tabled at a high-level meeting scheduled for that day.

The officials concerned alleged that the private company functions without licence at Chindakki in Mukkali and markets packaged drinking water and club soda named Silent Valley.

Groundwater depletion

P.S. Panicker of the environmental organisation Jana Jagratha said the company was causing alarming depletion of groundwater in the environmentally sensitive region.

The local grama panchayat said the company was causing drinking water scarcity in adjoining tribal settlements.

Company representatives said they do not draw groundwater but depend on an open well near a stream.

When the proposal to set up the plant was made five years ago, the State government and the district administration objected to its establishment.

Apex court order

“In 2000 the Supreme Court ordered that areas within the 10-km radius of the perimeter of national parks be managed as buffer zones by declaring them ecologically sensitive areas under the Environment Protection Act," he said.

“No such water business can be permitted in such areas,” Mr. Panicker said.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2020 8:47:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/legal-opinion-on-water-plant-by-april-19/article8457060.ece

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