The Madras High Court has directed the Public Works Department (PWD) to ensure the units manufacturing purified water, which do not hold valid No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the extraction of groundwater, are closed.
When the plea came up for hearing, a division bench comprising Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice R Suresh Kumar directed S Prabhakaran, Chief Engineer, State Ground and Surface Water Resources, to be present at the court during the next hearing on February 6 with compliance report. “[He should] also provide the data as to how many units are engaged in such purified water manufacturing industry in the State and how many of them hold valid permissions from the concerned authorities,” the bench said.
The petitioner also submitted the names of the companies that are allegedly extracting groundwater and requested the court to direct various government departments, including PWD, State and central Pollution Control Boards and district Collectors, to take penal action against the industries.
Adding that the units that are closed following the order would not be allowed to operate again and extract water unless and until they strictly complied with the conditions and obtained due permission to extract underground water, the bench said, “Such information should be supplied to this court in advance and only after the permission of this court, they should be allowed to undertake manufacturing activity again.” The petitioner said that in Chennai, there were nearly 150 units that pack drinking water. Apart from that, there are nearly 50 big and small water-based industries that were illegally extracting groundwater for industrial purposes. There were 200 places in Tiruvallur and 8 in Kancheepuram where groundwater was being extracted, the petitioner alleged.