THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:Drinking pure water is considered one of the primary steps towards healthy life. In the households of Kerala, boiling drinking water in the kitchen at the start of a day was a common sight. When water purifiers entered the scene, many opted to switch on the machine to get purified drinking water at homes. Though both these practices are still in vogue, many city dwellers have switched to packaged drinking water distributed in huge plastic cans.
Benny Jabakumar Jose of Premier Marketing Agencies, Pattom, is supplying packaged drinking water to around 75 to 80 households a day in the city. “The customer base of packaged drinking water has changed tremendously. A decade ago, households used to avoid us and our clientele consisted of corporates and offices. Now it seems, people have become more health conscious and are aware of the health hazards caused by drinking impure water,” Benny says.
A can containing 20 litres of water is charged between Rs 25 to Rs 50.
Rahul Krishnan R, of S S Group Kariavattom, has been supplying packaged drinking water for households in the Kazhakootam region for more than four years now. “I have noticed a considerable increase in the number of households who prefer packaged mineral water comparing to the demand it had when I started the business. Even then, most of our customers are either North Indians or Tamilians who are employed and settled here,” he says. Sales in apartments is high as many families start buying when they see water being supplied to neighbours.
According to Rahul, the largest number of buyers are those who continue the habit carried over from native places or previous residences. “Another good chunk of our customers are made up of bachelors who do not have the facility to cook at their places of living. When it comes to the city residents, those who have kids at home demand packaged drinking water for fear of contracting diseases through tap water,” he adds. S S group has around 100 household customers whereas Premier Agencies says that sometimes there are too many orders from households that they run short of stock.
Adv. Vennikulam George Varghese, president of Federation of Residents’ Association (FRAT) says, “the consumption of packaged drinking water is found among people in areas where water is scarce or there is no drinking water supply. They do not have any other way to get pure water to drink. Except for them, I don’t think there is wide-spread usage.”
Sreekumari Nair, a home-maker from Jagathy, has reasons for preferring mineral water at home. “For the past six months, we have been relying on mineral water for drinking. As the availability of cooking gas is scarce these days we can save the fuel spend on boiling drinking water with these cans. I have found it economical too. We need two 20 litre cans per week.”
In any case, the emerging trend is a mirror to many issues waiting to be addressed. “Most of our household customers either cannot rely on the public distribution system or would be getting polluted water through the pipes. In such circumstances, they depend on us for purified drinking water,” says S Lijin of Vaiga Agencies, at Valiyathura.