The Supreme Court has asked the RO Manufacturers Association to approach the government on the National Green Tribunal’s order prohibiting the use of reverse osmosis (RO) purifiers where total dissolved solids (TDS) in water are below 500 mg per litre.
The SC said this while hearing a petition filed by Water Quality India Association, representing the RO manufacturers, challenging the NGT’s order which had directed the government to regulate the use of purifiers and sensitise public about the ill effects of demineralised water.
A bench of justices RF Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat said the association can approach the concerned ministry within 10 days with relevant materials in this regard and the government will consider it before issuing a notification as per the NGT’s direction.
During the hearing, the counsel representing the association referred to a recent BIS report on standards of water in various cities across the country and said that it points out presence of heavy metals in Delhi’s groundwater.
WHAT IS THE CASE
The Water Quality India Association had on Thursday moved the Supreme Court against a ban imposed by the NGT on use of RO filters in Delhi as they “unnecessarily result in rejecting 80 per cent of potable water”.
The NGT in its order on May 20 had directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to frame rules for manufacturing and sale of RO filters, and banned use of RO in areas where the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in water was already low.
It had also directed that wherever RO is permitted, manufacturers should ensure that more than 60 per cent of water should be recovered. Current systems discard about 80 per cent of the water which is being treated, leading to huge wastage.
The NGT also directed that the Centre should lay down guidelines to ensure the use of RO reject water for purposes such as utensil washing, flushing, gardening, and cleaning of vehicles and floor mopping.
The NGT order came after an expert committee set up by the tribunal recommended a bar on use of RO technology, especially in municipal areas where piped water is supplied.
The committee pointed out that RO technology “is generally not required for the places having piped water supplies) primarily supplied by Municipal Corporations/Municipalities) from surface water sources like rivers, lakes and ponds. These sources have TDS levels for low as compared to groundwater sources.”
It had also recommended that the water purifier market could be classified based on the TDS level of the water being supplied/available in the area to ensure that safe water is being used in households, and water is not unnecessarily wasted.
Directions were issued to the Ministry of Environment and Forests to issue a notification to frame rules regarding the sale of RO filters, and to create public awareness about the wastage of water by ROs.
It also directed the MoEF that awareness should be created that TDS of at least 150 – which includes dissolved calcium and minerals in drinking water, is necessary for healthy water.
However, on November 4, the NGT found its orders have not been implemented. The rules to regulate RO manufacturing and sales have not yet been created. The NGT has given time to the MoEF and CPCB till December 31 to frame the rules.
Days after the NGT order, the Water Quality India Association moved the Supreme Court, seeking a stay on the NGT orders.
(With PTI inputs)