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Pakistan SC imposes Re 1 per litre charge on mineral water, beverage firms

Staff reporter, New Delhi
12/01/2019   0 Comments

In a landmark decision, Pakistan's Supreme Court on Saturday imposed a levy of Re 1 for every litre of surface water extracted by companies selling mineral water and beverages, according to a media report. The judgement was issued on a suo motu case pertaining to selling by the companies of water extracted from underground sources without any charge as well as the quality and fitness of the same for human consumption, Dawn newspaper reported. The revenue so collected will used for construction of the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams. The amounts will then be deposited in the dams fund already created by the apex court. The apex court made it clear that the funds so collected would not be diverted in any circumstances to any other purpose other than construction of dams and water-related activities. 

The apex court also constituted a special committee, headed by Prof Dr Mohammad Ahsan Siddiqui and comprising representatives of the provincial chief secretaries, director generals of the federal and provincial environmental protection agencies (EPAs) and others, to devise a mechanism for calculation, collection and monitoring of the recovery of water charges from all major industries consuming surface or groundwater. The industries include the energy sector, pulp and paper, cement, sugar, ethanol refineries, textiles, garments, tanneries, petroleum refineries, petrochemical industries and fertilisers. A similar levy has already been imposed on the cement industry. The apex court directed the federal and provincial governments to ensure installation of foolproof and state-of-the-art metering mechanism at every extraction unit within a period of 30 days. 

In order to counter environmental impact, the Supreme Court ordered the mineral water and beverage companies to start tree plantation programmes to fulfil their corporate social responsibility. "We expect each company to plant/arrange the plantation of 10,000 trees per annum," the court said, adding that a comprehensive programme would also be put in place to gradually phase out plastic bottles. In order to counter environmental impact, the Supreme Court ordered the mineral water and beverage companies to start tree plantation programmes to fulfil their corporate social responsibility. "We expect each company to plant/arrange the plantation of 10,000 trees per annum," the court said, adding that a comprehensive programme would also be put in place to gradually phase out plastic bottles. In the meantime, it said, it would be ensured that the plastic used for making bottles was certified by competent laboratories as being fit for human consumption. 

The bottled water companies are also required to provide a chart highlighting milestones for meeting all the objectives spelt out in the order and will furnish monthly compliance/progress reports with the implementation bench being constituted under the judgement for its perusal and appropriate orders. "The respective food authorities and the special committee also enjoy the authority to conduct surprise inspections at any time of the factory premises and water bottling/beverage facilities to ensure strict and faithful compliance of this order," the Supreme Court said. The implementation bench will take up the matter on January 31.

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