National Green Tribunal (NGT) has in an order dated Sept. 23 in original application of NGO Friends vs Ministry of Water Resources reprimanded the Ministry of Forest, Environment & Climate Change MoEF&CC for not coming up with an appropriate notification apart from other directions for use of ROs within a framework.
Notably the NGT had constituted a committee consisting of expert members taken from MoEF&CC, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Bureau of Indian Standard, IIT Delhi and NEERI.
The committee submitted a report to the NGT after which the Tribunal gave the necessary directions to the ministry. On these recommendations the NGT had directed that a notification prohibiting use of RO where TDS in water is less than 500 mg/l and wherever RO is permitted, a requirement should be laid down for recovery of water up to more than 60%. Further provision be laid down for recovery of water upto 75% and use of such RO reject water for purposes such as utensil washing, flushing, gardening, cleaning of vehicles and floor mopping. In addition the Tribunal had also directed that the people should be made aware of ill-effects of de-mineralised water.
After the ministry sought extra time-period of 8 months, the green court in a scathing remark said that “the above prayer appears to be unreasonable and delaying the matter to the detriment of public interest.” It also said that “though the applicant suggests that delay will advance commercial interest of those benefitted by delay, we do not propose to go into such allegation in absence of any clear evidence. The fact remains that order of the Tribunal is based on report of Expert Committee which also comprised representative of MoEF&CC and is enforceable without permission of any other authority with penal consequences.”
The NGT directed that the ministry issue the necessary notification in the light of direction already issued in accordance with the report of the Expert Committee and cover not only the subject of recovery of RO reject water in domestic and commercial use but also in industrial process.
The Tribunal also directed further that the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) to collect and provide data with regard to availability of groundwater and its usage in 21 cities mentioned in the report of NITI Aayog and furnish a report to this Tribunal failing which the Member Secretary of CGWA will be liable to pay Rs. 1 lakh as costs.