In a bid to ensure adequate supply of drinking water across Tamil Nadu in view of the coronavirus outbreak, the Madras High Court on Monday permitted the state government to allow packaged water units to temporarily function even without licence till July 31.
The order will however, apply only to areas identified as safe and semi-critical with regard to availability of groundwater, a bench of Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice R Suresh Kumar said.
The temporary relief granted to such units comes with a condition that 15 per cent of the daily production must be handed over to the government for free distribution to public.
The interim order was issued during the hearing of a batch of PILs seeking to stop illegal tapping of groundwater for commercial purposes.
Earlier, after the court's intervention, the state government had sealed all packaged water manufacturing units that were functioning without appropriate license and no objection certificate.
In a recent hearing, the court had directed the government to explain its strategy to ensure adequate drinking water supply across the state in view of COVID-19 outbreak.
When the pleas came up for hearing on Monday, Advocate General Vijay Narayan submitted the state has decided to permit all packaged water manufacturing units in safe and semi critical areas to temporarily work and operate even without licence.
"Water packaging units may meet the PWD authorities concerned to work out the modalities of production and handing over of 15 per cent of daily production to the state," he said.
Recording the submissions, the bench said, "In view of the submissions of the advocate general, we permit the state to go ahead and issue necessary orders for the temporary scheme with suitable conditions for allowing production till July 31.
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