Sales of packaged drinking water may touch one crore litres per day in Chennai and its suburbs in May
What started out being a source of drinking water for commercial establishments and the city’s affluent in the late 90s has now become an indispensable commodity in several households.
As the mercury soars, more Chennaiites prefer the convenience of packaged drinking water to meet growing demand.
This month, the demand for packaged water, particularly 20-litre bubble-top cans, has gone up by 10 per cent as compared to the nearly 65 lakh litres sold every day in March.
Manufacturers expect the total sales of packaged drinking water to touch one crore litres per day in Chennai and its suburbs in May.
Initially, packaged drinking water was sought after to bridge the gap in piped water supply. Now, people prefer it for the taste and believe canned water to be of better quality.
S. Kiran, a resident of Perambur, says, “I have slowly got used to the taste of mineral water. I cannot use groundwater for drinking or cooking anymore. Buying canned water has been part of my household budget for five years now.”
Some customers say they have begun to boil packaged water before using it after questions were raised about the quality of canned water.
Manufacturers of packaged drinking water say better availability and competitive pricing has attracted several customers. Of the total consumption of canned water, domestic customers constitute nearly 75 per cent.
Though Chennai Metrowater has, for nearly a year now, been supplying piped water on alternate days, it has not had much impact on packaged water sales, say manufacturers.
S. Arumugakani, president of Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association (greater Chennai region), says, “It has always been people in the city who buy a lot of packaged water. So, Metrowater supply has had no impact. The demand is now rising in some suburbs like Tiruvottiyur where groundwater is of poor quality.”
However, price of canned water differs with locality. S.T. Gopinath, general secretary of the association, says transportation and labour charges add to the cost of water sold to consumers.
Of late, the sale of bottled water has dipped slightly following the launch of bottled water by the government, at a lesser price.