New Delhi, May 22 : The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a plea challenging the National Green Tribunal's order by which it has put on hold its earlier direction mandating all the manufacturers of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes with lead content to carry a warning that their use was harmful to human health.
PVC pipes are being widely used for supplying water to buildings.
Asking the petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay to place before the court the certified copy of the May 2 order of the National Green Tribunal by which the order under challenge was passed, a vacation bench of Justice A.M.
Khanwilkar and Justice Navin Sinha directed the hearing of the matter on May 25.
The water supplied through PVC pipes with lead content may get contaminated due to the leaching of lead from inner walls of PVC pipes.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel Vikas Singh told the bench that the May 2 order has "diminished and whittled down" the May 25, 2017, judgment which had attained finality as it was accepted by all including the industry.
The NGT in its January 24, 2018 order directed the manufacturers of the PVC pipes with lead content to carry a warning that their use was harmful to human health.
However, the requirement of carrying the warming was dropped by the tribunal in its May 2, 2018, order after the manufacturers moved the tribunal contending that the January 24 order was passed without hearing them.
The January 24 order was preceded by a detailed judgment of May 25, 2017 wherein the NGT had ordered phasing out of the Lead as a stabilizer in PVC pipes.
The NGT had asked the Ministry of Environment and Forest to prepare a road map for phasing out of PVC pipes containing lead.
Besides this, the May 25, 2017, judgment had asked the government to notify the quality standards of Lead to be used in PVC pipes and also to lay down the standards for presence of Lead in PVC pipes.
The NGT had asked the MoEF to lay down the standards of the presence of Lead in PVC pipes in consultation with Bureau of Indian Standards.
The petitioner has contended that the "Lead contaminated water travelling through PVC pipes is leaving shocking effect on the life of humans" which can cause severe mental and physical impairments including anemia, disruption of nervous system and brain damage and damage to kidney.
Pointing that America has prohibited the use of any pipe or plumbing fittings in residential or non-residential buildings which are not Lead free and China has banned the use of Lead as stabilizer in PVC pipes used in water supply, the petitioner Upadhyay says that 33 per cent of over 370 samples of water from the top 26 cities of India tested positive for harmful content of lead.
The petition further says that out of these, 31 per cent of samples failed to adhere to the World Health Organization (WHO) standards of a lead content of less than 10 ppb (parts per billion), while 2 per cent of the samples failed to meet even the lenient Indian norms of 50 ppb.
The petitioner has said that the incidents of high content of lead have been found in ground water where and 41 per cent samples of ground water were found to be unfit for drinking.
Coupled with this over 15 per cent of municipal water had a high content of lead, asserts the petitioner.