HT Impact: Two illegal water purifying plants sealed in Gurgaongurgaon Updated: Jun 30, 2017 20:08 IST
Two water purifying plants were sealed by a CM flying squad team for allegedly supplying bottled water labelled as ‘mineral water’ to city residents. The units were operating without valid licences and were drawing ground water from unauthorised borewells. The units were using labels of mineral water brands such as Bisleri, Aquafina and Kingfisher to sell their packaged water.
The raid was part of the drive to crack down on illegal borewells that are operating in the city. The raids happened a day after HT ran a series of ground reports on the water mafia and the alarming depletion of groundwater in the area. According to a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Gurgaon’s water table is shrinking by 1-3 metres due to unchecked extraction.
While conducting the raid, the officials found these unauthorised units selling fake mineral water bottles. Raids were conducted at ATM Water Purifying Industry, lane number 2 at Sheetla Mata Colony and another property belonging Ram Veer at lane number 1 in the same locality.
“The units were found supplying drinking water bottles without any clearance and permission. They also had machines to seal bottles,” said Surender Nehra, an officer of the state’s hydrology department.
On visiting the site, an HT team found large number of stickers and caps of Bisleri and Aquafina bottles lying on the ground which were supposed to be fitted on bottles before selling them.
As more than half of the population of the city does not have access to treated or potable water from state-run plants, they depend on these units for drinking water. “The quality of water is never checked at these units. They do not have any clearance to sell groundwater,” Ravinder Yadav, an officer of the criminal investigation department (CID), who was part of the raid, said.
Though one unit was found filtering groundwater by using a reverse osmosis (RO) purifier, another was found filling untreated groundwater in bottles. These units have vans, which are used for supplying water to retailers.
The team expressed that such units are huge in number in the city, as the demand for drinking water is high. “The bore wells have been seized and our team has collected samples of water. Action will be taken if traces of any harmful chemical are found in the samples,” Vijender Singh Lamba, hydrologist, Gurgaon, said.
One of the operators of an illegal water bottling plant explained that in the old city, groundwater is still easily accessible to them. He said it is filled in fake branded bottles, with a capacity of 20 litres, and supplied to new Gurgaon areas.
These units do not deal with residents directly, as the bottles are usually sold to shops. Residents are often fooled into purchasing the faked packaged water to meet their needs. Each bottle, of 20 litre capacity, costs ₹70-₹80. They are tagged ‘purified water’ before being sold.
“Everyday, more than 350 liters of groundwater is extracted and sold in the market at this unit. People pay ₹70-₹ 80 for such fake packaged water. As the bottles are sealed, no one questions the water’s quality,” Ram Veer, owner of the bottling plant at Sheetla Colony that was also sealed, said. He had been operating the plant for the last one-and-a-half years.