Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 8:
With the onset of summer, the local packaged drinking water manufacturing units in Odisha capital are minting money flouting the norms.
Notably, the Directorate of Factories and Boilers looks after registration of factories and quality assurance among others. According to its definition, a “factory” means any premises, including the precincts thereof, whereon ten or more workers are working or were working, on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on with the aid of power or is ordinarily so carried on.
Exploiting the loopholes in the law, the packaged drinking water manufacturing units engaged in bottling of water and sachets employ 5-6 workers to duck its provisions. In such case, the Directorate of Factories and Boilers is helpless in enforcing restrictions on production.
In a recent survey held in Maharashtra, 53 percent of the water samples collected were found to be unsafe and substandard. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had drawn 95 water samples from packaged drinking water plants across the state between April 2014 and March 2015.
Barring a few places, the locally manufactured water sachets and bottles have made their presence felt in almost all eateries, betel shops and liquor joints in Odisha capital. Sachet water manufacturing units on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, beyond the BMC limits, are flourishing in the absence of any monitoring by the enforcing agencies.
As per an estimate, just five companies are registered whereas numerous unregistered local companies are dominating the market share in the capital city. Many supply water without ISO certification. The demand for packaged water being particularly high during summer, people hardly bother to check whether the products are certified or not.
Moreover, the retailers are endorsing local brands to get higher profit margins as compared to established brands.
Interestingly, these industries have spread their sales network unabated in the absence of periodic quality check due to inadequate number of Food safety officials (FSOs).
“Selling of packaged drinking water without proper license is illegal. Complaints about many illegal companies involved in manufacture of packaged drinking water were brought to our notice two years back. Health department officials had launched a crackdown on such units then. We haven’t received any information of illegal units recently. We would take action if we get such complaints,” Food Inspector, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, AK Chatterjee said.
Admitting that the samples of packaged drinking water available in the market are not being tested, he said, “We are not able to conduct regular raids due to shortage of staff.”