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India: Bottled Water Firms Lose Licenses

Indo-Asian News Service
February 19th, 2003

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The Indian government Wednesday withdrew the licenses of eight bottled water units following reports there were massive doses of pesticides and other chemical contaminants in their products.

"A countrywide raid was conducted today to check the quality of bottled water produced in a large number of bottling plants," said an official of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the government's nodal agency for quality certification.

"After the raid, we have decided to withdraw the quality certification of eight water bottling companies as they failed to meet the prescribed norms. These companies will not be able to market their produce without quality certification.

"The raid is on and over the next few days we will cover other water bottling companies located in different parts of the country," the official, who didn't want to be named, told IANS.

Those bottling units barred from using the ISI quality mark include market leader Bisleri's Bangalore facility and PepsiCo India's bottling plant at Bharuch, Gujarat.

Other companies are Kothari Beverages, Ion Exchange, Vaibhav Aqua, Sardul Mineral Water and Soda, Vaishali Mineral Water and Surat Beverages.

Officials of these companies were not immediately available for comment.

The crackdown on bottled drinking water companies comes within a month of an independent study revealing that most leading brands of packaged water available in India contain deadly pesticides.

The study, by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a non-governmental organisation, found that some of the bottled water available in the market contained pesticides up to 104 times the international limit.

Compared to that, imported brands such as the prohibitively expensive Evian, contained no pesticides.

After the CSE publicised its findings, the central government responded by ordering investigations into a $200 million industry in which international beverage giants Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle have investments.

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