KARNATAKA

Where rights are watered down

Thriving: With no strict enforcement of law, manufacturers and dealers of packaged water are laughing all the way to the bank.

Thriving: With no strict enforcement of law, manufacturers and dealers of packaged water are laughing all the way to the bank.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: K.K. Mustafah

Krishnaprasad



Over 100 illegal units are operating in and

around Bangalore

BBMP has only three food inspectors



Bangalore: Amid lack of awareness among people in general and many corporates in particular about the prescribed standards, the business of selling water is thriving.

Lack of awareness on ISI marking among people has enriched many manufacturers and dealers who sell packaged drinking water either without the marking or using fake marking. Unaware of the health hazards it brings, people drink “purified” water though it is unsafe for want of certification.

Though the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which gives ISI certification, is authorised to take action against those who use fake ISI marking on the bottles or large plastic containers, it has no power to initiate action on those who sell water without ISI marking.

BIS officials said they have initiated criminal action against 40 firms which were manufacturing packaged drinking water printing ISI marking without licence. According to BIS statistics, Bangalore has about 80 ISI certified manufacturers of packaged drinking water. Interestingly, the officials point out there could be more than 100 illegal units operating in and around Bangalore and supplying “unsafe” drinking water.

The State Health and Family Welfare Department, which has been entrusted with power under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, appears to have not been able to crack down on illegal manufacturers.

“Hundreds of companies, majority of them located in Bangalore, are selling water without ISI certification. This is because the local health authorities are not taking measures to stop such illegal activities, which attracts six months imprisonment and fine up to Rs. 50,000 or both,” says Vijay Mane, president of Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers’ Association.

ISI certified manufacturers need to invest in latest technology and maintain standard prescribed by the BIS. Illegal manufacturers outpacing certified manufacturers might discourage them from doing business legally, Mr. Mane says. Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) health officials pointed out that vacant posts of food inspectors is a hurdle in the process. “We need 30 food inspectors but the Government has sanctioned only 12, of which nine posts are vacant. Only three food inspectors are working instead of 30 to monitor three zones — South, West and East,” a senior officer said. Eight illegal units were sealed this year, he added.

The remaining areas of the BBMP, which were earlier falling under the Bangalore urban district, are being controlled by the food inspectors appointed by the Health and Family Welfare Department.

Usha Vasunkar, Director, Health and Family Welfare Department, said instructions have been issued to all district health officers to ensure that stringent action is taken to stop sale of packaged drinking water without ISI marking.

BIS Bangalore Branch Director M. Sadasivam says that people should check ISI licensing number, batch number, date of manufacture, and “best before” date before buying the water. People can check the BIS licence number and validity by logging on to its website >www.bis.org.in.

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