The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has severely reprimanded officials of Ministry of Forest or MoEF&CC for failing in their duty to come up with a notification regarding regulation of RO purifiers/plants. The NGT that was continuously hearing a petition by NGO Friends had previously asked the officials of the Ministry for the notification following the report of the Expert Committee.
The Ministry had to include not only the subject of recovery of RO reject water in domestic and commercial use but also in industrial process.
The Tribunal had further instructed 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.
After the Expert Committee submitted its report to the NGT on April 30 the Tribunal on May 20 had held “that where the TDS in the water was less than 500 mg/l, use of RO be prohibited. Wherever RO is to be permitted, condition of recovery of water to the extent of more than 60% be required. Further provision should be for enhancement of recovery of water upto 75% in phased manner in future and reuse thereof for permissible purposes.”
The MoEF&CC was required to issue appropriate notification and file an affidavit of compliance within one month, apart from other directions. A slew of other directions on the same petition were passed by the green court.
The status report filed by the MoEF&CC on Oct 31 said that “In order to ensure the compliance of the directions passed by the Tribunal the Ministry after having consultation with expert institutions like IIT, BIS, NEERI, CPCB and examining the legal formalities the Ministry has asked CPCB to frame holistic policy for use of RO Technology in the Country and submit draft notification. However, the draft notification has not been received till date. “ The submission further states that “after receiving the draft notification from CPCB, the same will be further examined by the Ministry on the aspects of Monitoring Mechanism for compliance of the notification, Institutional Framework for monitoring and implementation of the notification, identification of stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities for various functions, legal sanctity, etc. for consideration. As issuing notification is a policy related matter, comprises features of multidimensional in character which inter alia, include complex geographical spread, varied users i.e. commercial, residential, etc. Hence, region wise detailed consultation will be required before notification.”
However the NGT noted in its order dated Nov 4 that there were no valid reasons for the inordinate delay in coming up with a notification and the delay was causing harm to public health and environment.
The Tribunal warned the Ministry officials with imprisonment for non-compliance without any valid reason and asked them to comply by the directions by the directions already issued latest by Dec 31, failing which from next year onwards the officials responsible will have to go without salary as well as other coercive measures may be considered on the next date.
The NGT also noted that the CPCB has filed its report on the subject of checking wastage of ground water and connected issue and the issue will be taken up in another application fixed for hearing on Nov 28.
–By Prasoon Pant