Part II Packaged Drinking Water
Govt. of India has made ISI Marking mandatory for Packaged Drinking Water (PDW) for safety and health of consumers. In this part I will demonstrate if ISI mark is ensuring the quality of PDW or is cheating the consumer.
As per GOI order, PDW should conform to Indian Standard, IS 14543. The STI prescribed for this by BIS is Doc: STI/14543/6, August 2005 as per IS 14543: 2005 with 2 amendments. Let us find out how BIS ensures compliance of following requirements of STI:
Clause 1.0 LABORATORY- A laboratory shall be maintained, which shall be suitably equipped and staffed, where different tests given in the specification shall be carried out in accordance with the methods given in the specification. AND
Clause 13.0 STOP MARKING - The marking of the product shall be stopped under intimation to the Bureau if, at any time, there is some difficulty in maintaining the conformity of the product to the specification, or the testing equipment goes out of order. The marking may be resumed as soon as the defects are removed under intimation to BIS.
In December 2009, Vigilance department of BIS carried out raids on three licensees of PDW in Mumbai. During this raid following serious discrepancies amongst others were found:
a) QC in-charge, responsible for testing of PDW, was found incompetent.
b) Some testing equipment were found missing and some were found faulty.
c) Test records were maintained without doing actual testing.
d) PDW dispatched in the market without testing.
After the raids, local BIS office was informed and routine actions were taken. Licensees were advised to stop marking, they took corrective actions which were verified by local office and self-marking rights were restored.
Now let us see, what was not checked and how consumer was cheated.
It was clear that Packaged Drinking Water was sent in the market without testing but BIS officers did not check from which date it was being marketed without testing. They did not advise the licensees to immediately withdraw all Packaged Drinking Water available in the market. They did not advise the licensee to issue a notice in the media that consumers should not buy and consume Packaged Drinking Water of their brands as the same was not tested. Inspite of knowing it that Packaged Drinking Water available in the market (of these brands) could cause health problems to consumers as it has not been tested, BIS officers did not take any corrective and preventive action.
Under clause 13.0 of STI, licensees were required to stop marking on their own and inform BIS about it, but they did not comply with this statutory requirement. BIS officers also failed to record this serious discrepancy and did not seek licensees’ explanation on this. This is one requirement which is not checked in any BIS inspection and consumer, unknown of the potential health hazard, is left to consume hazardous ISI marked products. If this is not cheating and stabbing the consumer in the back then what else will constitute cheating and stabbing in back?
Were these BIS officers incompetent or they intentionally failed to protect consumer interest for some favour from the licensees. I have posted these “cheat the consumer” real stories of BIS on my blog MANAK. If you want to read the details then click on the following links: