Pakistan: Chief Justice of Pakistan initiates review of water extraction and quality of water sold by major bottled water companies

Pakistan bottled water companies / water shortage photo credit DAWN.jpg

In September 2018, during a hearing related to the drying of holy ponds due to sub-soil water extraction by cement companies near Katas Raj Temples, the Chief Justice of Pakistan “took ‘suo motu notice’ of the exploitation of water resources by mineral water companies operating in the country” (Haseeb Bhatti, Dawn, “CJ takes suo motu notice, seek data on usage of water by mineral water companies”, 14 September 2018). The water companies were required to submit data on water usage and were ordered to appear before the court on 13 November 2018. Prior to this appearance, the court received a forensic audit report demonstrating that major bottled water companies, such as Pepsi Pakistan, were extracting large quantities of water and paying nearly no fees to the government.

At the November hearing, the Chief Justice ordered all provinces to impose a tax of one rupee per litre on all companies bottling and selling water. He further created a committee to assess the quality of water sold by these companies.

Pakistan is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, with water quality being a serious concern across the country, particularly in large cities, such as Karachi.