Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal has by way of last chance granted time till December 31, to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, to comply with its order on coming out a policy for use of RO purifiers. The tribunal warned that if the order is not complied, from January 1, 2020, the concerned officer(s) in-charge in MoEF&CC, for carrying out the directions, will not be entitled to draw salary, till order is complied.
A bench led by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel while hearing a petition filed by NGO Friends, on May 20, 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 percent be required. Further provision should be for enhancement of recovery of water upto 75 percent in phased manner in future and reuse thereof for permissible purposes.
Tribunal directed the Ministry to issue appropriate directions in the matter. Also provide for a mechanism for public awareness about ill-effects of demineralized water on public health and for effective enforcement requiring the concerned Local Bodies/Municipal Corporations/Municipalities/ Panchayats and institutions like Public Health Engineering Department (PHED)/ Jal Nigam / Jal Boards, be required to display water quality at regular intervals, particularly TDS concentration component.
Also directions be issued for enforcement of Extended Producers Responsibility by the manufacturers for disposal of cartridges and membranes and requiring the manufacturers to provide proper labeling on the purifier specifying that the unit should be used if TDS is more than 500 mg/l.
The Ministry filed a report on October 31, stating that "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. It is also submitted that in view of the intricacy of the matter a progress report on a monthly basis will be submitted by the Ministry."
After perusing the same Tribunal said "The officers present have not shown any valid reason for non-compliance beyond what is mentioned above which stand has no merit. As already noted, delay in compliance of order is causing harm to public health and environment. The above stand clearly shows failure of the concerned officers to comply with the directions. The order is a binding decree under Section 25 of the National Green Tribunal, Act 2010 and the Officers of MoEF&CC are liable to be proceeded against for non-compliance. Section 26 provides for punishment by way of imprisonment for such failure."
As per the petition, use of Reverse Osmosis (RO) system where Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) level is below a particular threshold and where RO system destroys minerals rendering use of RO treated water harmful for human health. To prevent undue wastage of water rejected in the process.