–Companies found to be selling poor quality water to be shut down
–Court evaluating reduction in prices of mineral water bottles
LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday directed bottled water companies to resolve their shortcomings within 10 days.
The directives were made as the suo motu case regarding use of groundwater by mineral water companies was heard in the apex court’s Lahore Registry.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar said that a company found to be selling poor quality of bottled water will be ordered to shut down.
On Monday, the top judge had summoned the owners of 11 mineral water companies for the hearing on Tuesday.
In addition, a commission established over the matter by the top court was ordered to conduct an inspection of water plants owned by the companies. The Punjab Food Authority (PFA) director general said that notices were sent to the companies but they did not accept them.
“The court will take stern action in this regard,” the CJP responded while adding that the matter dealt directly with people’s lives.
During the hearing, the PFA director general and an owner of a mineral water company exchanged harsh words with each other.
“You might be a son of an affluent man, but not in the court. We will issue orders of your arrest and file a case for misconduct,” CJP Nisar remarked. The owner then immediately apologised to the top court and CJP Nisar withdrew the orders for arrest.
The court was informed that companies spend Rs8 on packaging of each mineral water bottle. In response, the CJP remarked that the court was evaluating a reduction in prices of mineral water bottles.
According to a report submitted to the court on the quality of bottled water, each company uses 90 million litres of water a day. There is no certified method to assess the quality of water, it said, adding that only Qarshi has a certified laboratory. The report ─ which found that groundwater contains fluoride and arsenic ─ also highlighted that none of the other companies are aware of what is in the water that they extract from the ground.
Last week, the apex court ordered all provinces to impose Re1-per-litre tax on companies selling bottled water and constituted a committee to evaluate the quality of ‘mineral water’.
In September this year, CJP Nisar took suo motu notice of water use by mineral water companies and directed concerned authorities to submit data over the matter. The top judge had taken the notice during the hearing of the Katas Raj case.