Last week’s water crisis forced many in the city to buy table-top reverse osmosis units

The strike by packaged drinking water manufacturers may have ended but many city residents are yet to get bubbletop cans.

Though vehicles carrying water cans were seen making the rounds of city shops, residents were asked to wait another day so dealers could stock up.

By Saturday evening, most packaged drinking water units had started functioning. The manufacturers had gone on strike last week after the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board closed down 92 units in and around Chennai as they did not have the required licences.

Murali, founder patron of Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association, said many units were working two shifts to make up for the past four days as the process of producing clean, drinking water is a long one.

“Raw water is allowed to sit for about four hours after being chlorinated. After that, it is passed through carbon, sand, UV and micron filters, before being ozonised. This being peak summertime, many units are working overtime,” he said.

B. Kannan of Thoraipakkam said his family was dependent on canned water for drinking and cooking. But his supplier had said he was unable to procure bubbletop cans.

“We do not have any groundwater source and are yet to get piped water supply. Without bubbletops, our household cannot run. I have been trying frantically to get some water,” he said.

T. Nagar resident Sriram Prasad said he used alum in a pot of water to allow the solids to settle and then boiled the water. “However, we cannot use the boiled water to make tea as it will curdle the milk. I have cut down on water consumption by half over the past three days,” he said.

The crisis also led many residents to opt for table-top reverse osmosis (RO) units at home. S. Jayaprakash of home appliances store Jayam and Co. in Anna Nagar said Friday and Saturday alone saw around 25 RO units being sold in his showroom.

“We sold some 12 units on Sunday as well. One brand advertised in newspapers that residents should install RO units instead of running behind water can suppliers,” he said.

K. Anthara of Vannandurai said her family switched to a RO unit a few years ago after they found insects in a can of water. “I am very comfortable with the unit. The company representative is very prompt with maintenance,” she said.

Though the strike is over and things are getting back to normal slowly, the packaged drinking water industry is still facing a crisis. A case is pending before the National Green Tribunal’s Southern Bench relating to the 92 units that have been closed by the TNPCB.

On Friday, the Bench directed TNPCB and the Commissionerate of Food Safety and Drug Administration to inspect the 92 units, analyse water samples and submit a report on May 27.

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