Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Here is a shocking news item from Kerala, the 100% literate state in the country! The food safety authorities have suddenly woken up to the possibility that water consumed in three of the major metropolitan cities might not be safe. Branded as God's own country, authorities probably were under the impression that God was taking care of the quality of water consumed by His subjects! But the "flash drive" to make a random check undertaken, probably to justify its existence, the agency seems to have unearthed a scam in the water market which at best can be called shameful! Even with limited sampling, it turned out 90% of the market samples were sub-standard and/or unsafe when tested against the specifications laid down for potable water! Here is a take on this unfortunate but condemnable  situation for which the safety authority must be held responsible.  

The three-day drive was carried out from March 21, simultaneously in Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram, as per the direction of the food safety commissioner. Officials collected 34 samples, including 16 bottled drinking water samples and nine each from tanker lorries and water sources of tanker lorries. The samples were subjected to chemical and biological tests. According to food safety officials, the situation is alarming in Kochi compared to other two cities as 90% samples collected from the city proved unsafe to drink."Both chemical and biological results of water samples collected from Kochi are not satisfactory. The presence of E coli is a major cause of concern. As per the Food Safety and Standard Act it should not be present in bottled drinking water. In the samples there was a minimum of two organisms in 100 ml," said an official with the food safety department in Thiruvananthapuram. Authorities said pH level in samples collected from sources and tankers were above the permitted level of 6.5. The iron and nitrate content in samples were also high. "If pregnant women drink water with high nitrate level, it can cause blue baby syndrome," said the official. Tests showed the presence of E coli in major brands. The presence of E coli in a well at ToshibaJunction near HMT, which is a water source, came to 1,600 organisms/100ml against the permitted level of 10 organisms/100ml. Despite the grave situation, food safety officials expressed their inability to take action against those who supply unsafe drinking, considering the scarcity of drinking water in the city and nearby areas.

After reading the report one gets the impression that the authorities (who else but the FSSAI?) is contented in flashing the results in the media to get publicity while those responsible appear to have been spared. Having misgoverned the country for decades which allowed these food criminals to thrive, exploiting the man-made water scarcity conditions, not bringing to books these perpetrators is nothing but shirking of responsibility. Selling water itself is unconscionable when Kerala is blessed with abundant rains but allowing tainted water to be sold to the unwary citizens is all the more heinous and heads must roll for perpetuating this situation. Such products must be banned in the state and the retailers who deal with such products also must be taken o task. The excuse trotted out against their inability to bring these violators to book is highly amusing that people would be starved of water!. the Government seems to be contented with the "satisfaction" that some thing is better than nothing! Will this be tolerated in any other country but in India? 

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