Nearly 45% of packaged water samples tested from the city were unsafe, Greater Chennai Corporation has informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
A total of 187 samples were collected from cans, bottles, sachets and water manufacturing units in the city and 42 of them were found unfit for analysis. The remaining 147 samples were analysed, of which 30 were bacteriologically not satisfactory, 20 were misbranded and 14 contained bacteria and were misbranded, according to the city corporation’s affidavit filed with NGT.
A senior official from health wing of GCC said unsafe drinking water could cause diarrhoea, cholera and even typhoid and added, “We are trying our best to prevent spread of such water-borne diseases by conducting surprise inspections and awareness campaigns.”
Besides this, Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drugs Administration Department too independently analysed 50 randomly collected water samples and found only 16 of them to be of prescribed standards. The rest were ‘sub-substandard’ and ‘unsafe’.
The tribunal, considering the submissions made, came to a conclusion that a large portion of the packaged water being sold in the market in Chennai was not fit for consumption and ordered that strict action be taken in necessary cases without delay.
According to official data, there are 462 drinking water packaging units in Chennai’s suburbs Tiruvallur, Chengalpet and Kancheepuram and inspections have revealed that 157 of them operated without the mandatory No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), food safety department and other statutory bodies.
Thirty six of them were shut down by TNPCB and the units, which were extracting groundwater illegally, approached the Madras high court for reprieve. The court granted them permission to reopen the units but on condition that they make make a security deposit for Rs 50,000 while applying for or renewing their licence.
Also, to meet the emergency need of increased demand of bottled water in the state and in view of Covid-19 pandemic, the court, through an interim order, allowed all firms in safe and semi-critical ‘firkas’ to operate upon free contribution of 15% of daily production to public. Complying with the order, 34 firms have contributed 1.75lakh LPD (litres per day) of water for free to the public, said the geology department.
Admitting this, NGT southern zone members Justice J M Ramakrishnan and Saibal Dasgupta on September 21 disposed of the petition as the case was pending at the high court and with actions being monitored directly, there was no necessity for NGT’s involvement.
This article has not been edited by Water Today staff and is sourced from The Times of India