In a move that will bring relief to the common man, the Kerala government has decided to issue an ordinance which will fix the price of packaged drinking water at Rs 13. Additionally, it has also been included under the Essential Articles Control Act.
The decision was taken after the government received several complaints about bottled water being sold at Rs 20 despite an earlier agreement to cap the price at Rs 12 a litre (from April 2 after the introduction of GST). This was because many manufacturers were still hiking the price, citing the rise in fuel rates.
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This prompted the state’s Food and Civil Supplies Minister, P Thilothaman, to hold talks with those engaged in the production of packaged drinking water i.e., the Kerala Bottled Water Manufacturers’ Association, on Thursday.
During the convened meeting, it was decided that bottled water would be brought under the ambit of the Essential Commodities Act to prevent an arbitrary increase in the price. Stringent action will be taken against companies that violate the order.
“We decided to bring bottled water under the Essential Commodities Act. The government will not allow anyone to charge Rs 20/litre and hence necessary legislation will be brought in to regulate the price,” Thilothaman said.
The Minister also made it clear that the reduction of prices should not lead to any compromise on quality, which if detected, would lead to strict action against the companies.
Interestingly, in April 2018, Kerala’s Food Safety Commissonerate had taken cognizance of consumer complaints to announce that packaged drinking water should not be sold in the state without the relevant food safety licence or BIS certification — mandatory according to Rule 2.1.2 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
With this in mind, the Commissionerate also urged the public to pass on information regarding violations of these regulations to the food safety mobile vigilance squad who would then take stern action. (Toll-Free Number: 1800 425 1125, District wise contacts of mobile vigilance squad: Thiruvananthapuram – 8943346195; Ernakulam – 8943346196; Kozhikode – 8943346197).