Supreme Court upholds high court decision on higher water charges
On September 12, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by PepsiCo India, questioning increased water charges with retrospective effect from 2001. They must now clear Rs 70 lakh as arrears in water bills. A 2009, the Bombay High Court directive had upheld the Maharashtra government'ss decision to charge industries which use water as a raw material (soft drinks, mineral water) a higher rate (ten times the existing) with effect from September 2001. Against this decision, PepsiCo filed the appeal in the Supreme Court.
The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) is responsible for infrastucture including provision of land, water and electricity for all industries in the state. In 2001, the government issued a resolution to increase the water cess which differentiated the users.
Category 1: Water used for purpose of drinking—rates were doubled.
Category 2: Water for industrial use—rates were tripled.
Category 3: Industries where water is being used as a raw material as drinking water, for such industries (cold drinks, mineral water etc)--rates increased ten times.
The rates were declared effective as of September 2001. For PepsiCo, the rates were increased from the existing Rs 3.65 to Rs 36.50 per cubic metre. The resolution also specified that the rates would increase by 15 per cent, every July. In 2005, PepsiCo were issued a bill of Rs 69,97,385 for arrears accumulated between November 2001 until November 2005.
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