Death in the pot

Water scarcity has raised questions about the conditions in which food is being prepared and served at city restaurants

Published: 02nd May 2017 11:55 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd May 2017 02:23 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Beware, foodies! You are taking grave risk if you plan to have food at a restaurant in the city. Not because of the stale food or the unhygienic atmosphere, but due to acute water scarcity in the city. According to sources, many restaurants have to make do with little water. This has forced them to look for other alternatives like bringing water from outside.

Some restaurants have also put up notices seeking co-operation from the public. They are urging customers to use napkins instead of water to clean their hands. Restaurants can’t even depend on private tankers anymore since none are available. They have been either hired by the city corporation or are overcome with prior requests. ‘T’Puram Express’ takes a look at how the restaurants are coping with the situation.
Water scarcity has hit around 600 hotels and restaurants. Since hotels and restaurants remain open from early morning to late evening, they require huge quantities of water.

Branded restaurants too have taken measures to tackle the situation. They have begun calling in the plumber regularly to check the water pressure in the taps.
“Till a few days back, the staff was barely aware of the need to conserve water. They’d keep the tap running when washing dishes. But the severity of drought prompted us to take appropriate measures,” says the manager of a restaurant at Vellayambalam.
Though the association has also suggested that a jug of water along with empty glasses be placed on every table for customers to pour out a drink if they choose, proprietors of  these restaurants say it doesn’t gel with the service standard expected of certain eateries.

According to G Sudheesh Kumar, patron, Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association, the situation is most likely to become worse in a week. “I have received many complaints from the restaurants about shortage of water. This is a serious issue. There is no time for any debate. What is needed is action and not words,” he said.
While smaller restaurants have to bear the brunt of water scarcity, others which have borewells, open wells or the capacity to hire a large number of tankers have not been affected.

Khasaak, a prominent restaurant at Jawahar Nagar is using a borewell to meet its water requirements. “We have a borewell. So we aren’t facing any water problems,” said Sameer, the owner of the restaurant.
When contacted, Food Safety Commissioner, Navjot Khosa, she said officials are preparing special guidelines for the restaurants in the city to ensure that the public’s health is not compromised.

“We have increased the number of raids and inspections for the past few days. Since chances for an outbreak of water-borne diseases are high, proper monitoring of the restaurants have become very essential. So far, we have served notices to many restaurants and also recommended action against seven to eight,” she said.
She also added that the raids would be intensified in the coming days to keep a check on whether the restaurants are making compromises with the quality of water which is being served to the customers.

Dos and Don’ts

  • The tanker lorries and other vehicles should obtain Food and Safety department’s license
  • The vehicles should display ‘drinking water’ while those supplying water not meant for drinking purpose should display ‘not for drinking purpose’.
  • The consumers should only take water from recognised licensed distributors
  • The hotels and restaurants should keep a register on the whereabouts of drinking water distributors  
  • The register should have the details of the quantity of the water which is supplied
  • Food service involves a lot of hand washing, so installing low-flow aerators at hand-washing stations is a simple, inexpensive and effective way to lower water usage immediately. It’s a good idea to install them not only in kitchen sinks but in bathrooms and your public restrooms as well
  • Staff awareness: One of the most effective way to conserve water is to let employees know it’s important. Take time to train them on proper dishwasher prep and loading. Or you can take it to the next level by instituting a sustainability competition featuring awards and recognition if certain targets are met.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water; not under running water.
  • Check pipes and faucets thoroughly for leaks and fix a dripping tap
  • Upgrade dishwashers at reduced cost. Most restaurant operators are aware that dishwashers are huge water and energy users


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