Tuesday, October 26, 2010


63 years of independence has not led to any degree of water security in practically any part of India. On the contrary the water safety has deteriorated to an extent no citizen can trust that civic bodies across the country in providing relief to him from the scourges of health afflictions caused by the so called "protected" water supply systems by drinking unboiled water. An off shoot of the failure of the government to improve quality and safety of water provided, thousands of private players have emerged manufacturing "safe" water in plastic bottles and carboys making a kill out of the fear of the citizens about "government" water!. The water processing industry also offers domestic treatment systems varying in price from Rs 2000 to Rs 20000 for "purifying" water from public supply. Now comes the report that all these treatment systems do not offer complete protection, especially from virus related infection.

"Despite loud promises that these gadgets suck out disease-causing bugs from drinking water, most purifiers sold across India do not completely eliminate water-borne viruses like Hepatitis E, says Pune-based National Institute of Virology. A study by the government-funded body that conducts research on communicable diseases and viruses evaluated eight domestic water purifier brands. It found only two - one equipped with a hollow fibre membrane and the other with a gravity-fed filter - could completely remove the viruses. The study also found no standards existed for virological evaluation of water purification devices in India and called for well-defined parameters. The NIV relied on the United States Environment Protection Agency's (USEPA) guide, standard and protocol benchmark for testing microbial purifiers".

As the above report has not emanated from any consumer activist organization and has the government authenticity there is no quarter for suspecting its bona fides. The findings assume significance in the light of emergence of virus as a major disease vector responsible for many diseases. Though the study cannot be considered complete, there are sufficient indications that the prevalent certification system for water purifiers needs urgent revisit for including their efficacy in making water virus free. Probably BIS will come out with new certification yardsticks factoring the virus removal need into the existing standards.


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