With jaundice spreading its tentacles in the capital town, ostensibly due to contaminated water, the demand for packaged drinking water and water purifiers has increased manifold.
While nearly 800 people have been left sick by jaundice over the past one month, the situation is not expected to change any time soon. Vikas Nagar, Kasumpati, Mehali and New Shimla are the worst-hit.
“Normally, sale of packaged drinking water usually decreases by 10% to 15% in winter, but the jaundice scare has increased their sale rapidly by around 30%,” said Kishore Sharma, a packaged water agency manager.
“Usually, there is a daily demand of nearly 180 boxes of packaged drinking water in Shimla for a certain brand, but these days the demand has gone up to 210,” Sharma added. There are three to four other agencies in Shimla that distribute packaged drinking water.
Ritesh Gupta, a retailer in New Shimla, said, “Due to the intense cold wave and closing of schools, most people return to their villages during winter, which also affects the sale of packaged water bottles. However, this year, their sale has surprisingly soared.”
Agency operators also confirmed that hotels were also contacting them for more mineral water.
The district administration and Shimla municipal administration had recently directed the dhaba and hotel owners to serve only purified water to customers.
Similarly, water purifiers are also selling like hot cakes. While they used to be settled in a corner in most shops, they are now being displayed in showrooms’ display windows.
“Daily 10 to 15 people inquire about the water purifiers,” said Surinder Sharma, a salesman at an electronic retail outlet on Mall Road, adding that traders were also offering offers on water purifiers that range from Rs 1,500 to Rs 25,000.
“In the past one month, we have sold over 15 high-end water purifiers, besides numerous small filters,” he added.
“We wanted to buy an LED TV, but since the jaundice outbreak, a water purifier gained priority,” said Susheel Chauhan, a New Shimla resident, adding that nearly 10 people in his neighbourhood had fallen sick due to the disease.
Kalpna Sharma, a resident of Sanjauli, who is suffering from jaundice, said she earlier had a simple water filter in her house. “But after I was diagnosed with jaundice in the last week of December, my family and I started consuming only packaged water. We will purchase a water purifier soon,” she added.