Panic buying as packaged water units go on strike

Homes, restaurants hoard up water cans, expecting prices to go up in coming days

Published: 29th February 2020 06:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th February 2020 06:50 AM   |  A+A-

Residents filling their water cans at wholesale shops on Friday| R Satish Babu

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Homes and restaurants across the city are worried, now that packaged drinking water units have gone on an indefinite strike. Around 1,800 units across the State went on strike Thursday evening, after the Madras High Court issued directions to shut down borewells from which some units were extracting water without requisite permission.

On Friday, people were seen hoarding up water cans, expecting prices to go up in the coming days. “Every time there is a strike, shops start charing `80-`100 per can,” says V Rathnamala of Kodambakkam. “On Friday, shopkeepers were refusing to supply more than two cans for each household as they can mint more money in the coming days. The government must ensure the strike ends soon.”Chennai Hotels Association president, M Ravi said most of the hotel chains in the city have installed RO systems and do not depend on drinking water cans. It is the small food outlets that will face an issue. On an average about 2-2.5 lakh water cans are supplied in Chennai everyday. During summers, the demand goes up to 3 lakh.

“There are totally 420 packaged drinking water units in Chennai and only 128 of them operate with NOCs. The water sources are divided into different zones like critical, semi-critical, exploited and metrowater. The government is stopping the units which are extracting water from critical and exploited zones. We are asking the government to set a bar on the quantity of extraction and not completely stop us. Cooldrink and tire companies extract crores of litres of water and the government stays quiet, we are just seeking permission to extract a few thousand litres of water,” said A Shakespeare, founder, Greater Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association.

Concurring, president of the association, J Anantha Narayanan said, “Each unit has at lease 50 families depending on it for their livelihood. This move of the High Court disrupts their life. More than 1,200 units across the State will face closure. Also, if this happens, illegal water units will see a surge in Tamil Nadu. In Chennai alone, there are 100 such units which illegally extract water and supply around the city.”
Responding to this, an official from the State Ground Water and Resources department in PWD said they are currently drawing possibilities for providing licenses to everyone.

HC direction
Packaged drinking water units went on strike, after the Madras HC issued directions to shut down borewells from which some units were extracting water without requisite permission


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