With increasing population and rapid urbanization, the demand for clean drinking water is increasing day by day as people prefer to drink bottled water and choose a healthier lifestyle.
People living in urban areas have become more aware of contamination of drinking water and this has resulted in surge of bottled water sale. The demand for bottled waters of various brands has increased in past a few years. Bottled water plants have been set up in different parts of the country which indicates the increase in demand.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), Pakistan comes at 80th place among 122 countries in drinking water quality. Majority of water supply is contaminated with arsenic and various bacteria as per capita bottled water consumption in Pakistan is five litres which is much higher as compared to per capita consumption in Bangladesh which is 3 litres.
“We have noticed a mushroom growth of filtered water plants that is why we have decided to frame a policy to ensure water quality,” said an official at Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA).
In Pakistan, 130 local brands are registered apart from some international brands – Aquafina (PepsiCo), Kinley (Coca-Cola) and Nestle Pure Life.
There is a major opportunity for small entrepreneurs to invest in business of bottled water which takes Rs. 500,000 to set up a bottled water plant. The plant can last for 10 years.
One plant, which runs 24 hours can produce 6,000 gallons of water. All these small businessmen need a reverse osmosis filtration plant and packaging material to sell water directly to consumers via home delivery. This trend is catching on in different parts of the country.
With the increase of bottled water demand, more plants are being set up which gives job opportunity to the youth. So in other words increase in consumption of bottled water is decreasing unemployment in Pakistan.
The PSQCA official said sale of substandard water is restricted. No Objection Certificate (NOC) is needed for plant to operate which is given by PSQCA.
“Water plants are not allowed to be set up in residential areas and those that are already functioning are given one year to shift to industrial or commercial areas,” said the official.
As per Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) quarterly report (July-September 2017), poor quality of drinking water has forced a large cross-section of citizens to buy bottled water. However, many of the mineral water companies were found selling contaminated water. The findings of monitoring report for quarter July-September, 2017 have revealed that samples of total 104 brands were collected and overall 95 brands were found safe and nine bands were found unsafe, the number of chemically safe brands was 100 and microbiologically safe brands was 99.
The targeted cities included Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Peshawar, Multan, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Tandojam, Quetta, Karachi and Muzaffarabad. SAB/aa —APP