The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that 53% of packaged drinking water was unfit for human consumption.
The FDA raided all water-packaging plants across the state between April 2014 and March 2015 to collect 95 water samples. Ten plants were operating in Mumbai out of the 95 plants raided. Samples were also drawn from Pune, Solapur, Satara, Sangali and Kolhapur.
The report showed that of the 95 samples, 28 had high bacterial count and 23 did not meet quality standards. "Four of the ten samples drawn from plants in Mumbai were found to be unsafe for consumption," said Uday Vanjari, joint commissioner (food), FDA headquarters.
All the samples were subjected to bacteriological analysis in FDA-run labs. "In certain samples, rod-shaped bacteria called coliform was found in high proportion," said Vanjari. Contamination due to Coliform can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
The operators that FDA cracked down failed to filter the water before selling it. "Purification processes of reverse osmosis or ozonisation are mandatory before packaging water. These were not followed. Water from bore wells, tube wells or mere tap water is filled and sold at close to Rs.10-20 per jar. Most so-called packed water jars are of 5, 10 or 20 liters in quantity," said an FDA officer.
FDA enforces hygienic consumption of drinking water under Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) mandate under the Food Standards and Safety Act, 2006.
Licensing and approval from Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and FSSAI certificate is necessary to run a packaged water plant. "None of the plants had BIS and FSSAI certification. It takes almost Rs.1 lakh to attain the necessary registrations. Moreover, to run a licensed packaging water plant requires investment of up to Rs.20 lakh or more to procure adequate filtration and purification machinery," said the officer.