The Uttar Pradesh government plans to introduce an Act regulating groundwater use by soft drink and mineral water makers shortly.
The Act has been given formal shape and will be tabled before the state cabinet at the end of this month after the by-elections for two Parliamentary and three Assembly seats.
The Act will require the companies to take a no-objection certificate from the groundwater department and the district magistrates will have the power to seize stocks and cancel licences on non-compliance.
Soft drink makers and mineral water companies in UP currently do not need permission to use groundwater from any state authority.
M M Ansari, director of the groundwater division, told Business Standard that these companies only need licences from the municipal corporation and the health department and some do not bother to acquire even these.
The Act has been drafted after scrutinising similar Acts that are being enforced by Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa and Orissa.
Ansari said the regulation is being introduced because most districts of UP have been found to have high levels of arsenic in water samples, including in potable water. These districts are Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Pilibhit, Rampur, Saharanpur, Unnao, Bulandshahr, Behraich and Basti.
He added that in spite of this, 52 mineral water makers and two soft drink bottling plants continued operations in Lucknow.
The groundwater department, according to the director, has warned the state government on the level of arsenic in drinking water.