Nellore: 1000 water plants face the heat

Only 9 plants have stipulated equipment and valid licence from BIS.

Nellore: Food safety officials were baffled when random checks exposed as many as 1,000 and odd RO (Reverse Osmosis) drinking water plants were operating in Nellore district without the mandatory permission from the Bureau of Indian Standards. Some of them have been simply drawing water from nearby wells to the plant and supplying to the consumers after namesake processing, food inspectors alleged.

Only nine plants were found having stipulated equipment and valid licence from the Bureau of Indian Standards. As per the guidelines of BIS, every unit should have specific equipment as well as a microbiologist and a chemist but except a few, no one is following the rule. In this backdrop authorities are contemplating closing down all unauthorised units in view of threat to public health.

According to food safety and standards department officers, no person shall manufacture, sell or exhibit for sale packaged drinking water except under Bureau of Indian Standards Certification Mark (ISI) as per rule 49 (28) of prevention of food adulteration act 1955. The AP High Court had also ordered the state government to close down all the units which do not have ISI standards so that members of the public are not exploited by unscrupulous manufacturers of drinking water while reacting to a petition from Chairman of Consumer Protection Council, Machilipatnam Shyam Bhaskar Rao in September 2006.

The food safety department launched the drive to check the RO water plants following instructions issued by Nellore district collector R. Muthyala Raju few days back. The officers were surprised when they noticed gross violations in 40 odd plants they inspected in the recent past. Food Safety Officer G. Venkateswara Rao said they have found only nine units functioning as per BIS specifications among more than 1,000 units in Nellore district.

Since there is no specific department to deal with the violations of the erring plants, district authorities decided to invoke Section 133 Cr PC to close down the unauthorised drinking water plants. The tahsildars, which have executive magistrate powers, have been making use of the authority to take action against the plants and serving notices as a first step.

Mr Venkateswar Rao underlined the need to issue a GO to prevent Power Distribution Companies from providing power connection to the drinking water plants unless they submit BIS certification to contain the menace. He alleged that power connection is being given under small scale industries without any questions to the illegal water plants now.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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