Groundwater won’t be free anymore, says the Supreme Court

September 14, 2018

Photo: Reuters

The companies and organisations that have been pumping out groundwater will now have to pay the price for their actions.

The country’s groundwater will not be free anymore, remarked Chief Justice Saqib Nisar during a hearing at the Supreme Court on Friday.

“Water holds the same price as gold,” he said while hearing a case on environmental pollution caused by cement factories. Two cement factories in Chakwal — Best Way and DG Khan cement factory — have been accused of using groundwater for their own purposes.

The top judge remarked that such factories should pay the cost.

The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered to fix a price for factories’ use of groundwater. This rate will apply to all cement factories across the country.

The court has ordered the Punjab environment secretary to visit all cement factories and ensure they meet the environmental standards. The environmental watchdog has been told to prepare a report on this.

“Cement factories must meet their water requirements on their own,” said Justice Nisar. The next hearing will be held in two weeks.

No more political appointments

Justice Nisar remarked that a chairperson of the Evacuee Trust Property Board should be appointed. A new person should be hired on the post in a transparent manner,  he told the attorney general.

“The time for political appointments has long passed,” he added.

Mineral water companies

Mineral water companies have also been asked about the steps they have taken to protect groundwater in the country.

“Only cement factories should not be targeted. We need to look at mineral water companies too,” the chief justice said.

The top judge took suo motu notice of the quality of mineral companies in Punjab.  The companies have been asked to submit relevant details to the court.

The hearing will be held at the SC’s Lahore Registry on Saturday, September 15.