Tuesday Nov 13, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Tuesday ordered authorities to levy a tax of Re1 on bottled water companies for every litre they extract from underground water reserves.
Resuming hearing of a suo motu case pertaining to alleged exploitation of water resources by mineral water companies in the country, Justice Nisar ordered the federal and provincial governments to issue notifications regarding the order within two days.
Earlier today, the chief justice reprimanded mineral water companies for “extracting billions of rupees’ worth of groundwater” and not paying enough taxes on it.
He vowed the court would not allow the water resources to be polluted and depleted, “even if the companies have to shut down”.
“This is no longer [only] about taxes, this [issue] has turned into a scandal,” the top judge addressed a representative from one of the mineral water companies.
“It should not be called ‘mineral’ water, it should be called ‘bottled’ water,” he remarked.
“Billions of rupees’ worth of groundwater has been extracted [by these companies]. Who will account for this?” CJP Nisar questioned.
The top judge told the representative that the court would not allow for the nation’s loss, even if it meant the mineral water companies had to shut down their industry.
“[We] will not let the people die of thirst, just for the sake of your profits,” the chief justice remarked.
He told the representative that he had found “mixing” in the bottled water four times.
Environmental expert Professor Dr Ahsan Siddiqui informed the court that the mineral water companies in question did not even possess equipment to check the water quality, and they had also not obtained any certificate from any environmental organisation.
The professor told the court that a single plant of a company extracts approximately 0.1 million litres of water per hour. The groundwater level has receded from 100ft to 400ft, he added.
The director-general of environment informed that none of the mineral water companies has been paying even a single rupee to the government. He told the court that the wastewater is released back into the ground, which serves to pollute the groundwater further.