Most of us have the habit of drinking water right out of bubble-top cans without qualms. But is the canned ‘mineral water’ safe enough? No, if you were to go by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB)’s dossier.
In an affidavit filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the TNPCB has revealed that only 23 of 121 such mineral water packaging units in and around Chennai, have consent. This means the water that you trusted to be pure was packed in units that were out of the radar of the authorities, raising questions on its quality.
Among the 98 units without consent, 11 are in the city. According to the affidavit, most unapproved units in the city are in residential areas like Egmore, Chetpet and Arumbakkam. A majority of units in areas around Chennai, such as Sriperumbudur, whose customers include IT firms, are also on the list of units without consent.
A senior TNPCB official told Express that some of the units function out of very small buildings. In fact, in two of the units, tap water was cleaned with plastic filters manually and then supplied. The affidavit before the NGT said violations were confirmed after an inspection on March 15. Most units did not have any approval for drawing water. In fact, such was the brazen functioning of the units that they had not even applied for consent. The issue of violations in these units came to light after a CBI investigation in March nailed scientists of the Bureau of Indian Standards, who had allegedly taken bribes to let offenders off the hook.
A bench comprising Judicial Member Justice M Chockalingam and Expert Member Professor R Nagendran, who took the matter up suo moto on March 5, was told on Tuesday that the District Environment Engineer had recommended closure of such units, which is under consideration. The board was asked to submit an Action-Taken report before the next hearing.