Previous governments failed to provide safe drinking water, promoted “right to bottled water”
Environmental movement world over hates bottled water
May 27, 2014: The ministers of the new BJP led government in the first cabinet meeting were compelled to drink bottle water, indicating how the previous governments have left drinking water and water sources in a sorry state. The new ministers led by the new Prime Minister can lead the nation into adopting tap water and use of stainless steel thermos for portable drinking water. The PIB picture of cabinet ministers with bottled water is revealing.
One can see “bottled water” even in front of Ms Uma Bharti, the Union minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. From this meeting onwards, it is expected that she will be persuade her fellow ministers and legislators to join a national campaign to outlaw bottled water.
Previous governments deliberately allowed public water supply systems to go defunct. So much so that instead of restoring them, Ministry Railways in its short sightedness started bottling water and selling it under “Rail Neer” brand. The previous governments did not realize that plastic bottles are not sustainable. In fact bottled water is nothing but tap water put in a bottle and advertised to con citizens.
It is hoped that new government will ban sale of bottled water during its tenure by providing clean tap water to all Indians including ministers and legislators.
Indians are being robbed of both their water and money. After all the cost of treatment of bottle water is around Rs 0.25 per litre. What adds to the cost is transportation of bottled water and its advertising. The real cost is incurred on the plastic bottle which around Rs 3-4/litre container.
It is self evident that bottled water adds food miles to a basic necessity through transportation from one water basin to another makes it more carbon intensive.
It is noteworthy that water does not come from municipal taps but from groundwater.
Notably, some of the chemicals found in bottled water are either well-known carcinogens or are known to cause obesity, diabetes, brain disorders, liver disease, ovarian disease and low sperm count and other ailments. There have been studies indicating the body burden.
It has escaped the attention of previous governments that the bottles used to package water take hundreds of years to bio-degrade and if incinerated, there are toxic emissions. Most of single-use water bottles used simply become "litter."
There are some 3,300 registered plants manufacturing bottled water in India. It is estimated that there are more than 12000 are unregistered plants in India. The domestic bottled water market is estimated at Rs 8,000 crore, and expected to grow to Rs 10,000 crore by 2013. It is expected to grow over four-folds to Rs 36,000 crore by 2020.
There are some 1,800 brands of bottled water in India including several small, regional brands. Bisleri is in the leading position with a 36% market share, followed by Kinley at 25% and Aquafina at 15% market share approximately. Parle Agro's Bailley has a 6% share in the market among the national players. The other organized brands make up for the remaining 18% share.
Due to the myopia of the previous governments, bottled water has become one of the fastest growing industries in India. Diverting water from rivers to bottles or kiosks or banks to monetize water is contrary to public interest of the present and future generations. It is deeply anti-nature and all the scriptures.
The new environment minister must pay heed to the fact that globally environmental movements hate bottled water and if it isn’t structurally weak like his predecessors will persuade the government to discourage policies and programmes that promote bottled water.
The Narendra Modi government must reverse this trend. After all, it is against Indian culture to buy and sell drinking water. Is it not? In fact ban on the bottled water will act as a litmus test to demonstrate how this government is qualitatively different from the previous ones.
To begin with hopefully there will be no bottled water at the next cabinet meeting and its usage will be discontinued in the upcoming session of the Parliament.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660, E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.toxicswatch.org