Visakhapatnam: With rising mercury levels, the flourishing business of the sultry summer months packaged drinking water is back in the city. The scarcity of drinking water coupled with decreased groundwater levels pushed the sales of packaged drinking water northwards in Visakhapatnam city over the last one month.
But the spurious packaged drinking water manufacturers occupy a major share, dropping beneath the radar of the officials. While the certified and branded ones are selling their 20-litre water cans at about Rs 40-60, the non-certified ones cost about Rs 20-30.
According to the insiders of the bottled water industry, it takes about Rs 15 lakh investment to set up a certified water plant. But the illegal water plants, who blatantly disregard the regulations laid by the Bureau of Indian Standards, set up these plants at an investment of Rs 3 to 4 lakh. Some also do away with printing the manufacturing date and MRP on the bottles.
Several studies in the past revealed the presence of E.coli, streptococci and other microbes in the contaminated packaged water. According to the food safety officials, there are about 50 BIS certified units in the city and they booked cases against 30 water packaging units where the samples were found to be contaminated in 2015.
“We are going to form a special squad to keep a vigil on the erring unit. As the certification costs the units way higher than the ordinary ones, the units are giving a miss to the certification and regular checkups,” said assistant food controller, Hanumantha Rao.
But the price-conscious consumers are easy prey to the spurious bottlers. The consumers are more concerned about the price of the water bottles rather than the quality. Very few opt for the branded ones due to the difference in the prices. Even the non-branded water bottles outdo the branded ones in the volume of sales, added M. Sai Krishna, a water bottle vendor from MVP Colony.
Doctors of the city also have a word of caution .Consumption of contaminated water could result in various water-borne diseases and one should avoid drinking water from unauthorised water plants, added Dr. Ramana Rao....