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HC seeks report from State government on water packaging units

The Madras High Court has sought response from the State government on allowing 396 water extraction units to function in non-eligible categories (over exploited and critical firkas) and transport it, contrary to the assurance given to the court that permission would be granted only on case-to-case basis.

HC seeks report from State government on water packaging units
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Madras High Court

Chennai

A division bench comprising Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice R Suresh Kumar sought the response while taking stock of its March 23 order allowing private water extraction units to function without license temporarily in view of COVID-19.

During the hearing, senior counsel G Malsilamani submitted that despite informing the court that the 396 applications would be decided on case-to-case basis by the concerned district level monitoring committee headed by the District Collector, the principal secretary passed an omnibus order allowing private water packaging units to transport the extracted water.

The bench then directed special government pleader J Pothiraj to file a specific response to the senior counsel’s submission. Also, accounting for the time sought by the SGP to file the latest status report regarding the temporary scheme, the bench said “Since the permission granted in the court order dated March 23 is up to July 31, let the status report be filed before the next date, July 22.”

Ahead of the lockdown, the bench had restricted the functioning of water packaging units only subject to licence/NOC as per GO No 142 dated July 23. But thereafter, in view of the pandemic situation, it allowed the State to proceed with a temporary scheme to allow the units to function up to July 31.

As per the earlier status report, 690 applications were received in areas (eligible categories), of which 121 units were issued licence/NOC so far. The applications of remaining 332 units were under field verification, and reports of 237 units were received. The applications under process would be completed by July 31, said the submission.

The government added that the units in the eligible category areas would be allowed to work immediately subject to the condition that 15 per cent of their daily output would be handed over free of cost to the respective District Collector at the nominated and designated place. The packaging units were also directed to arrange facility to transport this quantum of water.

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