MoEF requests NGT to extend Reverse Osmosis notification deadline

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on January 10, 2020 Published on January 10, 2020

Seven months after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) instructed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to come up with a notification to restrict use of Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology for water purification due to wastage, MoEF is yet to come out with any mandate.

On January 10, after the green court reopened post-holidays, MoEF requested for a further extension of date. NGT had cited December 31, 2019, as the last opportunity for MoEF to comply with orders, after the Ministry had earlier requested an extension in November, and one before in September.

NGT will now hear the matter on March 23.

On November 18, last year, MoEF constituted a committee to recommend draft notifications - ‘Regulation of RO based water purification system for Domestic, Commercial and Industrial Sector.’

NGT had threatened the MoEF that if they do not comply with the order by December 31, concerned joint secretaries in MoEF will not be able to withdraw their salaries come January 1.

After NGT directed MoEF to issue a notification prohibiting use of RO where Total Dissolved Salts in water is less than 500 mg/l and wherever RO is permitted, recovery should be more than 60 per cent, an industry body comprising RO companies, Water Quality Indian Association (WQIA), moved Supreme Court (SC) which had then asked MoEF to consider industry representation before issuing a notification.

After the SC instructed MoEF to make the notification, and the WQIA sent in its 2000-odd-page submission on December 2, a draft notification has now been prepared, MoEF officials confirmed.

For retrieving up to five litres of drinking water from RO, an additional ten litres is wasted.

In the meetings preceding the making of the draft notification accessed by BusinessLine, all committee members except the industry representatives agreed on the proposed recovery efficiency, however the WQAI representative requested to record his dissent on the decision of the committee on the proposed recovery efficiency in the draft notification.

Apart from wastage issue, NGT has also observed that drinking de-mineralised water may deprive human body of certain essential minerals. MoEF in it’s affidavit has stated, “MoEF or this committee don’t possess adequate competency to address such complex issue of prescribing parameter specific acceptable water quality standard comprehending the health aspect.”

An MoEF official said that the draft notification had no regulation on output water quality of water purification system but there was emphasis on increase in recovery efficiency, regulation on domestic, commercial, industrial category installation, extending producer responsibility to be applicable for plastic waste components, and encouraging and promoting various options for reuse, recycle of reject water.

In an affidavit submitted to NGT, MoEF, asked for four more months for the final notification to come through. “Two months for wide circulation of draft notification for inviting comments and two months for incorporation of comments and finalisation of notification and obtaining approval from Ministry of Law and Justice are required,” read the affidavit.

Published on January 10, 2020
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