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LAHORE: The Supreme Court summoned on Monday owners of 11 water bottlers with a warning to place their names on exit control list (ECL) if they failed to appear before the court on Tuesday (today).

A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing suo motu case regarding selling of bottled water by extracting groundwater without any charge and its fitness for human consumption.

Representing Nestle Water Company, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan requested the bench to hear the matter on Nov 30 after returning from his (CJP) visit to the United Kingdom.

However, Chief Justice Nisar turned down the request and asked the counsel that should he prefer the foreign tour on a case of public importance. “Do those selling sub-standard water to nation deserve any concession?” the chief justice said.

DG Cement told to deposit Rs80m as price of water utilised by it and Rs20m as penalty in dam fund

Justice Ahsan, other member of the bench, regretted that these bottlers had earned billions of rupees but they failed to set up a water testing laboratory.

Also, a report submitted by the Environment Protection Agency-federal said the bottled water companies were extracting underground water worth Rs9 million per hour in main cities of Punjab, including Lahore and Sheikhpura. It said the companies had no laboratory to analyze fitness of the underground water for human consumption. The companies had no mechanism to identify minerals in the water. The report confirmed that the underground water being extracted and used by the companies contained fluoride and arsenic.

CEMENT FACTORY: About the extraction of water in Chakwal near the Katas Raj pond, Chief Justice Nisar directed DG Khan Cement to deposit Rs80 million as price of natural water utilized by it and Rs20 million as penalty in the dam fund establishment by the Supreme Court.

A report submitted by EPA established the factory had not utilized rainwater but extracted groundwater through multiple tube wells.

The chief justice ordered that only two tube wells would remain functional but for the utilization of domestic and community’s use. He directed the EPA to keep monitoring the factory for six months and report to the court if it extracted water from tube well again for industrial purpose.

RAVI: The Supreme Court directed Punjab Minister for Housing and Physical Planning Mian Mehmoodur Rashid to form a committee to ensure immediate construction of a filtration plant to treat water being discharged into the River Ravi.

To a court’s query, the minister said the government in the province is of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and it was a “Naya Pakistan”.

However, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed that he did not know whether the “Naya Pakistan” had been created or not. He said the work on the water filtration plant should be carried out on war footing.

The chief justice directed the minister to constitute a committee on the issue and file report within a week.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2018

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