The water packaging units declared unsafe in the state will continue to down shutters said the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal stating its earlier interim order regarding the units will remain unchanged. The NGT, had suo motu, taken up a petition to assess the safety of drinking water in the packaging units in 2013.
An association comprising 867 packaged drinking water units was made a party in the matter. The units were assessed for their location in the critical over-exploited, semi-critical and safe groundwater areas. Around 570 units in safe blocks were allowed to operate.
Another set of 33 units under the Metrowater jurisdiction, in semi-critical areas, were also permitted, pending a `no objection’ certificate from the water agency for extraction of groundwater. The tribunal directed Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCN) to close down around 252 water units.
On Friday , special government pleader for the PWD and water resource organization Abdul Saleem appeared and argued the case. The tribunal then said there were three categories of the units on the basis of NGT’s earlier interim order.Those denied permission, the ones shut down, were allowed electricity connection only to maintain their equipment and units with clearance. The water units with clearance had to abide by the conditions of PWD along with continuing operations for a limited number of hours. The clearance was provided “in view of the need of the public and also the employees’ of the units whose livelihood depends on it,“ the tribunal said.
Meanwhile, a petition challenging GO No. 40, which classified the groundwater in the state in the three categories, was pending in the Madras high court. The interim orders of the NGT would continue, pending verdict of the high court, said the tribunal.
It also directed the TNPCB chairman to ask all District Environmental Engineers (DEEs) to monitor the units and ensure strict compliance with the order.