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Watch before you drink that water!
BS Corporate Bureau in New Delhi |
February 05, 2003 12:13 IST
Is packaged/mineral water safe for drinking?
A study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment says that most of the brands of packaged/mineral water available in the country contain pesticides -- several of them banned -- significantly higher than permissible limits, which can cause serious physical impairment ranging from damage to the central nervous system to lung cancer.
Unveiled on Tuesday, the study says that while packaged water brands in Delhi have 36.4 times higher total pesticide content than the permissible limits, Mumbai brands have 7.2 times the standard content.
Evian, which is imported from France and not bottled in India, is the only brand in which no traces of pesticides were found.
The European Economic Commission directs that the maximum residue limit for total pesticides is 0.0005 mg per litre and 0.0001 mg per litre for a single pesticide.
The pesticides which were tested for include organochlorines, organophosphorous, chlorpyrifos, malathion and DDT.
The bottled water industry is India is estimated at about Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) and is growing at a rate of 40 per cent.
The CSE list contains the country's leading packaged/mineral water brands.
Ramesh Chauhan's Bisleri, the market leader, ranks 15th amongst 17 water brands studied in Delhi with the total pesticide content being 79 times more than the prescribed limits and seventh amongst 13 brands studied in Mumbai.
Neither Chauhan nor his legal counsel were available for comment.
Coca-Cola's Kinley has been ranked 8th in Delhi with 14.6 times more than the prescribed limits of pesticides, while it is on the 5th spot in the Mumbai list.
"We are meeting all the norms which have been prescribed by the government. Pesticide residue is a national problem but we are maintaining high quality standards in all our plants," a Coca-Cola India spokesperson said.
Other brands that find a mention in the Delhi list include No.1 McDowell and Kingfisher from the UB stables, Pepsi's Aquafina, Nestle India's Pure Life and DS Foods' mineral water Catch amongst others.
"All No.1 McDowell products comply with BIS standards," UB sources said.
The Mumbai list includes Prakash Chauhan's Bailley. Responding to the study's findings, a Pepsi spokesperson said: "Aquafina bottled water is produced to meet WHO-prescribed standard and follows a stringent seven-step process of purification."
The study says that the pesticide content varied in bottled water brands because of the source of raw water.
In Delhi, most of the companies depend on borewell water and are located in industrial or agricultural areas which is the reason behind an increased pesticide content.
In Mumbai, however, the companies use water supplied by the municipal corporation. The water companies clean 20-80 per cent of the pesticides in the source water, CSE said.