CHENNAI: In a significant development, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and Food Safety and Drug Administration departments have found that only 51 private packaged drinking water units in Chennai supply potable drinking water. The samples from 34 units were found to be unsafe.

The agencies submitted the test report to the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal on Monday. The tribunal had taken suo motu cognizance of pollution in packaged drinking water in March, and ordered both agencies in its last hearing to conduct water sample tests in 92 units in and around Chennai, which did not have consent orders from PCB to operate. Of this, seven units were found already shut down.

Upon this submission, the bench, comprising judicial member M Chokkalingam and technical member R Nagendran passed an interim order on Monday, permitting the units, whose samples that were found satisfactory, to carry on manufacturing, packaging and distribution of packaged water until further orders. On the ‘unsafe’ units, the bench ordered the departments to conduct resampling tests giving sufficient time to sterlise the plant and posted the hearing to July 2.

The units falling in Chennai, Ambattur, Tiruvallur, Maraimalai Nagar and Sriperumbudur either draw water sourced from bore wells or through tanker supply by individuals. The counsel appearing for Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Association, C Seethapathy argued that the units other than Bureau of Indian Standard licensees were messing up the system, with fancy names like ‘herbal’ and ‘flavour.’

In its order, the bench directed the pollution control board to issue show cause notices to all BIS units in the state. The board has already issued notices to about 300 units. “After obtaining the replies, the board can pass orders warranted under law. But implementation of the orders can be kept in abeyance until further orders.” In the meantime, there is no impediment for these units to apply to the board for consent orders to operate.

The board has also been directed to find out the number of private drinking water units in the state, with or without consent of the BIS certification, and file a report in the next hearing. “We will take stern action against them,” the bench observed.

Courtesy: THE TIMES OF INDIA

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