HC cracks down on bottled water firms

HC cracks down on bottled water firms

Faced with the startling data that only 224 out of the estimated 788 packaged drinking water manufacturing units in the State operate with ISI certification, the High Court on Friday directed companies without that seal of quality to apply for licences before the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) within 15 days.

The court also directed the BIS to finish the formalities of application processing and follow-up procedures within four months and after that, take action against those agencies and companies that sell water without ISI certification.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Lochanesh B Hugar, president of a Hubli-based NGO.

The division bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice Aravind Kumar ruled that the BIS finish reviewing all such applications within three months and a period of 30 days should be given for the agencies to upgrade themselves to the quality standards. Overall, the entire process of certification should be completed in the next four months, the bench said.

The bench further said if any agency was found to be indulging in sale of packaged water without certification, after four months, strict action should be initiated against such defaulters as per the Food Security Act 2006.

The petitioner had submitted that even though the BIS had made ISI certification a must for packaged water manufacturing units and put in place detailed testing norms, few units had the required certification. More than 5,000 illegal packaged water agencies were functioning in the State, compared to around 180 legal ones, he said.

A bottled water unit called Anugraha, which argued for the packaged water manufacturing agencies, said even though they did not have ISI certification, they do provide quality water to public. “The procedure for getting ISI certification is cumbersome and officials do torture us when we apply for the certification. Unnecessary delay is being caused during the process,” the company said.

The state government said there were no such problems as there were good labs for testing in different parts of the State. “Aware of the staff crunch at labs, steps have been taken to increase their number from 30 to 65. We are also planning to make use of labs under Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and Department of Mines and Geology, for water testing and 150 labs are functioning efficiently in the State,” it said.

After hearing the arguments, the division bench directed the BIS to call for fresh licence so that packaged water manufacturing units can apply for the certification within 15 days and adjourned the case.

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