News Analysis |
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has directed all provinces to impose Rs 1-per-litre tax on companies selling bottled water and constituted a committee to evaluate the quality of ‘mineral water’. According to media reports, the directives were issued by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar while concluding the suo motu case regarding use of water resources by mineral water companies.
The new tax will apply on groundwater extracted by the companies. The court will take up the case related to beverage companies later. The CJP was unhappy to note that the companies were earning billions of rupees in Pakistan but were unwilling to pay a single penny. “Bottled water companies earn billions of rupees without paying a single penny. I will not let people die of thirst for their profit,” he observed.
Experts suggest that this is an alarming situation and Pakistan needs to focus on developing a comprehensive policy mechanism to address the challenge.
Irked by the response of the Bottled water companies, the CJP asked them to quit the business. “If you don’t want to accept the deal [paying Re1 per litre], you are free to exit the industry.” He also went on saying that “show some courage and close the factory. I will see how long you can keep it closed.” It is worth mentioning here that the CJP is concerned about the water scarcity in Pakistan.
He has repeatedly maintained that there will be no compromise on the future of the country. As a matter of fact, some reports prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) have alarmed that the country will reach absolute water scarcity by the year 2025.
The UN report also highlights that the most immediate threats would be water unavailability to the masses and Neil Buhne, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Pakistan said, “No person in Pakistan, whether from the north with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the south with its ‘hyper deserts’, will be immune to this.”
The new tax will apply on groundwater extracted by the companies. The court will take up the case related to beverage companies later.
Moreover, the reports are attributing the crisis to climate change and poor management around the country. Due to lack of attention and political will in Pakistan there could have been no new dams to manage the country’s water crisis. Experts suggest that this is an alarming situation and Pakistan needs to focus on developing a comprehensive policy mechanism to address the challenge.
Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation on the eve of 7th September for a short while. PM Khan urged the nation and particularly the overseas Pakistanis to donate money ‘as much as they can’ to build dams. “There is no question that we are faced with several significant problems,” the PM said as he began the address. “Our debt today stands at Rs30, 000 billion but the biggest problem we currently face is the water crisis,” he added.
PM Khan appealed to the overseas Pakistanis and said that “if every overseas Pakistani donates $1,000, we will have enough to build the dams ourselves.” He also assured the donors that he [PM] will be responsible to use their money fairly to construct dams.
The CJP and PM Khan are making utmost efforts to ensure that the water is not wasted in the country and nobody tries to earn money at the cost of the country’s future. Therefore, the directives given by the apex court to Bottled Water companies are a welcome move for many experts in the country who believe it will help Pakistan generate more revenue and establish more water reservoirs.