There will be likely delay of a year in implementing the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) order banning RO purifiers in areas, where the total dissolved solids or contaminants in water are below 500 milligrams per litre, as the Ministry of Environment and Forests has expressed its inability to complete this exercise due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.
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. It had slammed the ministry for the delay in issuing the notification and warned the officer concerned of stopping his salary.
The order had come after perusing an expert committee report which said that if total dissolved solids, or TDS, are less than 500 milligrams per litre, an RO system will not be useful but will result in removing important minerals and cause undue wastage of water.
"Even after one year, further extension of time has been sought by the MoEF on the ground of lockdown. Let necessary action be now completed positively by December 31, 2020," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said.
In January, the environment ministry had sought four months for effective compliance - 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 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.
The matter is listed for next hearing on January 25.
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 1,200 mg is unacceptable.