Riding on big brands, they tapped water demand in city
The 20-litre jar of so-called ‘ozonised mineral drinking water’ being supplied to your home or office could be fake. Chances are that you may be paying R75 for a jar of tap water.
A day after the city police arrested seven members of a gang that used to supply fake mineral water bottles of well-known brands in Gurgaon, HT paid a visit to one of the fake water treatment plants in Samaspur village near Sector 51 on Wednesday.
The ‘plant’ works out of a single-storey building and is surrounded amid garbage and muck. Shockingly, agricultural and animal wastes, reeking foul smell, were strewn all around the plant where water jars were being filled.
Gallons of unfiltered water were being packed and sealed into empty jars of known brands such as Aquafina, Bisleri and Kingfisher.
A few days back, Pepsi had filed a complaint with the Gurgaon police to stop illegal supply of water. According to the police, the seven accused workers and van drivers were held while they were loading bottles in a truck. The mastermind is still at large.
The police have seized 850 jars of 20-litre capacity each and a large cache of 200ml plastic cups of mineral water brands loaded in four small mini trucks. Sacks full of fake packaging material, including wrappers and holograms, have also been recovered.
The police said bottles were being supplied across various parts of Gurgaon, including posh localities like DLF City, Galleria Market, Sushant Lok, Sohna Road and Udyog Vihar.
“The gang was operating in the city for years. They revealed that five illegal water plants were functioning in Samaspur, Islampur and Chhakar and Wazirabad (two plants). Our teams raided these plants and sealed them on Tuesday night,” said Maheshwar Dayal, DCP (East), Gurgaon.
Police officials claimed the plants did not have a no-objection certificate from the pollution or health department. Locals too never objected when they saw several bottles being loaded and unloaded from trucks.
Residents, meanwhile, are upset with the breach of trust. Teena Sharma, a resident of Mayfield Garden, said, “I was buying Aquafina till now but after this incident, I do not trust any brand. I will get a RO (reverse osmosis) system now.”
Vandana Balhara said, “I do not let my daughter drink water unless it’s Bisleri but even that cannot be trusted anymore. Now I know why children fall ill so often these days.”
Delhi printer made fake bottle stickers
Photographs of fake stickers and holograms of reputed mineral water brands, used by the water mafia (see graphic), have been procured exclusively by HT. Made by Delhi-based printers, the stickers are exact replicas of the original, making it hard for a common man to distinguish between a fake and the real. During interrogation, the seven arrested workers named Prithvi and Vikas Yadav of Wazirabad and Naresh Yadav of Samaspur as their supervisors. They are absconding. HTC