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DRINKING WATER SHOULD BE HEALTHY: RO PURIFIERS BAN BY NGT

  DRINKING WATER SHOULD BE HEALTHY: RO PURIFIERS BAN BY NGT In a recent judgment passed in July 2020, the National Green Tribunal directed...

 



DRINKING WATER SHOULD BE HEALTHY:

RO PURIFIERS BAN BY NGT

In a recent judgment passed in July 2020, the National Green Tribunal directed the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to issue orders by December 2020 to ensure complete ban on use of RO water purifiers in areas with a TDS of less than 500 milligrams per litre of water. RO (Reverse Osmosis) Purifiers are a popular household consumer choice when it comes to purifying water for daily consumption. RO water purifiers are very beneficial for removing impurities and toxins from water, making it apparently clean enough for human consumption. However, in a study conducted by World Health Organization, it was found that RO Purifiers are successful in removing toxins from the water but also end up removing atleast 98% of minerals dissolved in the water. Thus, although the water becomes clean for human consumption, it is not necessarily healthy enough. The RO purifiers remove the essential minerals (a process called de-mineralization of water) from the water, making it unhealthy and even harmful for human consumption. This is indicated by the process of “mineral leeching”, that is, a process wherein the de-mineralized water consumption leads to forced extraction of minerals from the body that have been built up during one’s lifetime and supplemented through everyday minerals and vitamins rich diets. This leads to further deterioration of micro nutrients in the body, leading the consumer vulnerable to many diseases. Mineral rich water also makes absorption of calcium and magnesium easy for the body. However, de-mineralized water makes it very difficult, leading to several bone disease, especially in women who are more pre-disposed to bone diseases.

Given the various harmful effects of de-mineralized water, NGT proposed a ban on RO Purifiers way back in 2019. Further, the NGT bench pointed out that use of RO purifiers also leads to unnecessary water wastage and this is a serious concern in backdrop of already depleting natural resources. However, the order of NGT in 2019 had to face several hurdles, particularly after the Water Quality Association of India filed an appeal against NGT’s order owing to the impact of Ro Purifier ban on several RO makers and manufacturers.

Recently, in February 2020, the MoEF&CC issued a draft notification for ban on RO Purifiers. The notification doesn’t comply with the NGT order completely, and remains silent on TDS limit, instead saying “acceptable limit for drinking water prescribed by the Bureau…”. The Notification essentially seeks to ban use of RO Purifiers in only those areas where the Tap Water can meet the standards set by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Further, to address the issue of water-wastage, the notification specifically mentioned that RO Water could be used only for drinking purposes.

However, the MOEF&CC has left the procedure of monitoring and enforcement to the BIS. The Bureau will carve out a system for monitoring, assessing and certification after consultation form the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the State Pollution Control Board. The water supply agencies will also be consulted and placed on the board to finalize the rules and guidelines. With respect to proper disposal of Plastic membranes after they complete their life-cycle, it is specifically mentioned that Plastic Management Rules, 2016 will be implemented and applied.

However, owing to the recent pandemic and nationwide lockdown, it seems unlikely that the proposed ban will be successfully implemented by end of December. The next hearing on the issue is slated for January 2021 in National Green Tribunal.


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