The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday directed all provinces to impose Re 1 per litre tax on mineral water companies while also constituting a committee to examine the quality of mineral water being sold by the companies. The committee will be headed by environmental scientist Dr Ahsan Siddique and comprising officials from the Environment Protection Agency, Punjab Food Authority as well as representatives of bottled water companies. Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar issued orders to this effect while wrapping up a suo motu case pertaining to the exploitation of water resources by mineral water companies operating in the country.The court also directed court assistant Dr Ahsan and Environment Department Director General to submit a report within ten day with the apex court after checking the quality of water. As the hearing went underway, the attorney general told the court that all mineral water companies were ready to pay Re 1 per litre tax. Upon this, the top judge directed to also receive tax from the companies on water already sold in the market. During the hearing, a representative of a company raised an objection that conglomerates would have to pay Rs 42 million on every cusec. Hearing this, CJP remarked that he would not allow private companies to make profit at the cost of nation’s loss. Court assistant Ahsan Siddique told the court that each company was extracting 100,000 litre of underground water every hour. “Bottled water companies earn billions of rupees without paying a single penny: I will not let people die of thirst for the profit [of bottled water companies],” the CJP remarked.“If you don’t want to accept the deal [paying Re1 per litre], you are free to exit the industry,” the CJP said while concluding the case. During the last hearing, Justice Nisar had regretted that bottled water companies were selling water after extracting it from the ground almost for free and had summoned the owners of all mineral water companies to appear in person before the court. The issue had cropped up in September during the hearing of a case related to the drying up of the Katas Raj pond due to heavy consumption of subsoil water by nearby cement factories.Published in Daily Times, November 14th 2018.