In a curious argument before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on Tuesday claimed that it had no jurisdiction to inspect water packaging units for quality as its work was restricted to providing certifications.
When the suo moto proceedings on the illegal water packaging units was taken up for hearing by the southern bench comprising of Judicial Member Justice P Jyothimani and Expert Member R Nagendran, counsel appearing for the BIS told the bench that the body had no jurisdiction to conduct inspections of the illegal water units.
“Under the Act, our role is restricted to certification. When someone applies for the certification, we will do the necessary inspections which are even more rigorous than those conducted by other bodies. But our job is restricted to that,” he said in the open court.
Meanwhile, as per earlier directions of the Tribunal, the TNPCB on Tuesday submitted a report on re-inspections. The Tribunal had ordered the re-inspection of units that were found to be below standards in the last hearing after the units said due process were not followed in collecting samples. Of the 38 units from which samples were collected, 22 confirmed to standards and were found to produce safe water. In the remaining units, seven were sub-standard but were not unsafe. Therefore, the bench ordered that these 29 units could restart their operations. However, those who were below standards have to raise their quality by taking guidance from the TNPCB.
As far as the remaining 9 units were concerned, the bench said they cannot operate at the current juncture as the water produced was found to be unfit for consumption. There units have to take technical advice from TNPCB authorities and improve their standards so that they come to the level of fulfilling the basic parameters as provided. After the instructions of the TNCB are confirmed to by the nine units, the board has to inspect and file a report within 10 days to the tribunal.
Meanwhile, on the water-packaging units in rest of TN, it was informed by the TNPCB that show cause notices have been issued to 753 of the 855 units in existence which had no consent to operate. The bench said whether notices were issued or not, water has to be sampled and analysed and a report on each unit should be filed with the tribunal for further orders. The progress of inspecting all units should be reported on August 26.
When the counsels for the manufacturers pointed out that the TNPCB has stopped issuing consents as there was an order of the High Court prohibiting ground water extraction for commercial purposes. For this, the bench said the remedy was in another forum and the tribunal cannot interfere in the orders of the HC.
However, the day also saw another twist with manufacturers of “flavoured water” moving an impleading petition claiming that they do not come under the BIS and was governed by the Food Act. The bench noted that the application would be heard on Thursday.