HC allows intervention in unpackaged drinking water PIL

Nagpur: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, on Thursday, allowed an intervention application, against unpackaged drinking water suppliers, which alleged that product sold by such firms should be licensed in compliance with Food Safety and Standards (prevention and restrictions on sales) Act, 2011.

The intervention was filed in a PIL by Harish Sarda in 2013. It was admitted by the court for final hearing while granting a stay for prosecution of proprietors who sell unpackaged water.

On September 6, TOI had published a detailed report on the hazards of consuming unpackaged drinking water, which is processed from dingy rooms and in basements, in shops and in houses, without following stringent norms of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and FDA.

The containers are unpackaged and unsealed, the units are unhygienic and unmonitored and the water not tested regularly.

The intervention was filed by Govardhan Chavan, owner of Dandakarunya Aqua, through counsel Malhar Vishwarupe. He argued that the products sold in jars with covers, which can be opened without breaking the seal, would not fall within the definitions stated in the act.

He contended that packaged drinking water is an item intended for human consumption. Under the Act, the term ‘food’ is defined as “any substance, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed which includes packaged drinking water”.

The Act also defines manufacturer and package, which clearly indicates that water sold for drinking purposes should be sealed in containers.

 While the BIS rules say that a water manufacturing unit must have sufficient space for a separate laboratory, raw water storage facility, packing area and loading and unloading points, most of these local units are running in a small room where water storage, Reverse Osmosis (RO) set-up, chilling and moreover washing dirty containers and refilling them are happening at the same time and same place.

 

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