Bangalore: Following rising incidents of health hazard cases due to consumption of unclean water, the State Health department has issued a circular stating that water distributed through pipelines should be potable and the water sold in cans should be of ISI standards. On the other hand, the Karnataka State Purified Water Distributors Union says that the local authority and health department are using this circular to harass the owners of all water treatment plants. The court has ordered those treatment plants without ISI standards to be shut down but the members of the Union say that they will approach the court for relief since their livelihood is at stake.
It is estimated that there are around 1,000 water treatment plants in Bangalore alone providing employment to more than 75,000 people. There are roughly 150 plants which have the required ISI standards and they alone cannot cater to the demands of the people for pure drinking water. Most of the plants in Bangalore have Reverse Osmosis process to treat water. But some plants which sell packaged water draw water directly from the tap or the bore wells without treating it, thereby, affecting plants without ISI mark that have been asked to shut down.
The price for 20 liters of packaged water from a plant having the ISI mark is Rs 50-Rs 60 whereas the plants who do not have the ISI tag are selling it for Rs 20 to Rs 25. “With the Court’s direction, it will not only increase the price of the packaged water but there will be a big deficit in the market leading to a monopoly situation. The companies with ISI standards have a union of their own whereas the companies without this are unorganised and hence,are unable to tackle the existing problems. It takes Rs 20 to 25 lakh to install a water treatment plant and the fate of the people who invested, by borrowing money from banks and private lenders, still hangs in the balance,” said a union member.
Karnataka State Purified Water Distributors Union is requesting the Court for a year’s time for the plant to be registered with the ISI, so that they can arrange for money in the allowed time frame. Kiran P S, a member of the union said, “As for the quality of the water, let the customers decide. If the water supplied is harmful, they won’t subscribe it. But we work on a personal basis and we know all our customers. We won’t cheat them as we have to face them everyday.”
“Our water is very clean, matching the ISI standards. Closing down our units will bring our families on the streets. The companies having the ISI standards are putting pressure on the government to eliminate us, so, we will approach the Court again,” said Prakash, a Union Member.
However, the Bangalore West, BBMP Health Officer Devki Umesh said, “Water borne diseases are on the rise and the Corporation has given directions for ensuring clean and ISI standardised 20 litres water cans from the distributors. “We cannot compromise on health issues. Suppliers may claim that they are supplying clean water but we will not allow it, if it doesn’t meet the necessary standards,” stressed Devki Umesh.