The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal censured officials of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for its failure to file a comprehensive report on packaged drinking water units functioning in the State.

Taking cognizance of a report in an English daily in March that revealed violations of safety parameters in packaged drinking water units, the tribunal had directed the officials to file a report. The tribunal had also passed interim orders on the applications of South India Packaged Drinking Water Manufactures’ Association, Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufactures’ Association and others.

When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, a report was submitted by counsel for the TNPCB before the bench comprising Justice M Chockalingam and Prof R Nagendran.

Expressing dissatisfaction on the contents of the report, Justice Chockalingam said the report was not filed as desired. “On an earlier occasion too, the Tribunal had directed them to file the report. If a (satisfactory) report is not filed on the next hearing, the Tribunal would have to view the matter seriously and take action against the erring officials,” he said.

Directing the member secretary of TNPCB to be present on the next hearing along with the report, the Bench warned of severe action such as imposition of fine ranging from `50,000 to `1 lakh on each of the officials of TNPCB, if the report was not filed. “What steps have you taken to file the comprehensive report? Packaged drinking water is being sold everywhere. Does this mean that you do not care about the orders of the tribunal?” he asked.

On May 27, the tribunal had directed the member secretary, TNPCB, to instruct the district environmental engineers (DEEs) to estimate the number of packaged drinking water units in each district that were functioning with and those without valid consent orders and certificate from the Bureau of Indian Standard, and asked them to file a report in the next hearing.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on September 4.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express