The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday (July 14) directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to issue by the year-end a notification banning RO purifiers where total dissolved solids (TDS) in water are below 500 milligrams per litre.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel granted more time to the ministry after it informed the tribunal that the exercise could not be completed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Even after one year, further extension of time has been sought by MoEF on the ground of lockdown. Let necessary action be now completed positively by December 31, 2020,” the bench said.
The NGT had earlier said the delay in compliance with its order is causing harm to public health and environment and it be complied with expeditiously.
The Ministry had in January sought four months for executing the NGT order.
The MoEF in its plea had said that for effective compliance of the order four months are required — two for wide circulation of draft notification for inviting comments, and two for incorporation of comments, finalisation of notification and obtaining approval from Ministry of Law and Justice.
The matter is listed for next hearing on January 25.
The NGT had on the last date of hearing slammed the ministry for the delay in issuing the notification and warned the officer concerned of stopping his salary.
The tribunal had earlier said its order was based on a report of an expert committee, which also comprised a representative of the MoEF, and is enforceable without permission of any other authority with penal consequences.
In a bid to regulate the use of RO purifiers, the NGT had directed the government to prohibit them where TDS is below 500 mg per litre and to sensitise the public about the ill-effects of demineralised water.
The tribunal has also asked the government to make it mandatory to recover more than 60 per cent water wherever RO is permitted across the country.
TDS is made up of inorganic salts as well as small amounts of organic matter. As per a WHO study, TDS levels below 300 mg per litre are considered to be excellent, while 900 mg per litre is said to be poor and above 1200 mg is unacceptable.
Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a water treatment process that removes contaminants from water by using pressure to force molecules through a semipermeable membrane.
The order had come after perusing an expert committee report which said that if TDS is less than 500 milligrams per litre, a RO system will not be useful but will result in removing important minerals as well as cause undue wastage of water.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by NGO Friends seeking conservation of potable water by preventing its wastage on account of unnecessary use of RO systems.