Not just water

Not just water with no government regulations in place , until recently, the bottled water industry in India was totally unorganised. Any one could set up a bottling plant, fill bottles with tap water and sell it in the market. There was a big question mark on the quality of water. This may not be anymore. With the government setting new standards and multinationals entering the fray, the industry is set to undergo a sea change. The current market leader continues to be Ramesh Chauhan's Parle Bisleri Limited, a 31-year-old brand synonymous with bottled water in India. But multinationals such as Pepsi Foods with Aquafina and Coca-Cola Limited with Kinley promise to give Bisleri a tough competition. It is estimated that there are 250 different brands of bottled water in India. There are more than 2,000 bottling plants across the country. Till some three years ago, the value of the organised bottled water market in India was pegged around Rs 150 crore. Today, it has gone up to Rs 500 crore. Industry sources estimate that the market will grow at around 50 per cent per annum for at least seven to eight years. This they attribute to an increase in public awareness about water-borne diseases. A report by the Tamil Nadu-based Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation says that in 1999 the market grew at the rate of 70 per cent per annum. "As of now, urban areas account for the major share but if manufacturers are able to reach rural areas, the market can grow further,' says Naginder Razdan, director (Delhi), Bisleri.
Quality control In India, so far there were no regulations on quality and sale of bottled water. Even if some specifications were made, they were not implemented. "This industry has been highly unorganised and there have been no quality checks,' says A K Saxena, director (environment), National Productivity Council, New Delhi. This led to mushrooming of small time operators, including those filling used bottles in search for quick money. A World Health Organisation ( who ) fact sheet points out: "There have been reports of fraud in which ordinary tap water has been added to used mineral water bottles and sold as the original article.' Only in September 2000 did the government come out with regulations to make Indian Standards Institute ( isi ) certification mandatory for all the bottled water manufacturers by March 29, 2001. It has notified that before this date every brand of bottled water in the market should have an isi certificate and a bold lapel mentioning whether it is

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