87 units of potable water sealed so far: Senate told

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ISLAMABAD, Jan13 (APP): Minister for Science and Technology Rana Tanveer Hussain Friday informed the Senate that the government has sealed 87 units of potable water so far found involved in manufacturing contaminated and unsafe water across the country.
During the question hour in the House, the minister said there was mafia in potable which involved in manufacturing unsafe water and they always change their name and again started business with other name.
He said the government was taking several steps to control manufacturing of contaminated and unsafe water and also enhanced punishments including fine and other sentence.
Earlier, there was only Rs 50,000 fine which was enhance to Rs 600,000 and sentence from three to five years which was only three to six month before.
The minister said the government has also launched an awareness campaign not to purchase potable water without trade mark.
He said that to ensure the quality of potable water was not mandate of the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) or Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) rather Capital Development Authority (CDA) was responsible for supplying of safe and clean water to the residents.
The minister said the CDA has installed various tube wells and water filtration plants in Islamabad which regularly monitor the water quality of filtration plants for which PCRWR provides sampling and testing facilities.
On request of CDA, the minister said that PCRWR provides training (joint water sampling, chlorination etc.) to CDA staff for the maintenance of water supply system to ensure the quality of potable water from time to time.
Rana Tanveer said that PCRWR has been tasked to carry out quarterly monitoring of bottled / mineral water brands and publicize the results.
He said that during the quarter, July to September 2016, PCRWR collected 109 bottled water brands to analyze the quality. Out of 109 brands, 11 brands were found unsafe due to chemical contaminations.
The minister said that PCRWR does not have any statutory authority to take action against those selling contaminated bottled water.
However, results of quarterly monitoring report of mineral water are regularly disseminated through print/electronic media, PCRWR website and sent to the CDA, Commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Provincial Chief Secretaries and PSQCA for taking appropriate legal action against the sub-standard brands.
He said that PSQCA has a complete mechanism to monitor the quality of bottled drinking water and mineral water through quarterly inspections of the manufacturing units and market surveillance from time to time wherein the samples are also taken from open market and sent for testing to labs analysis in accordance with the Pakistan standard.
To control the production of sub-standard bottled drinking water in the country, he said that PSQCA has closed 87 water plants from August, 2015 to November, 2016 and also filed court cases against different manufacturers.
Rana Tanveer said that to increase the income of the departments, the research and development organizations have extended the scope of various services being offered, such as analytical, pilot plant studies, consultancy etc.
He said that up-gradation of lab facilities of various organizations to enhance their capacity to carry out need based research and development assignments and offer solutions to various industrial problems.
The minister said that rates for various tests at laboratories of different organizations have been rationalized to enhance their revenue generation.
Rana Tanveer said the BoD of PSQCA is presently considering the proposal to revise the fee structure being charged by the authority which will be presented in the next BoD meeting.
The PSQCA as per its mandate has so far included 108 items in the compulsory certification marks scheme, to check and monitor the quality of the products, the minister added.
He said that PSQCA also generates its revenue by testing of above said products, issuing licenses/quality assurance certificates and marking fees.
Rana Tanveer said that currently, manufacturers of some of the mandatory products are not getting licenses nor paying any marking fees since last few years, which mainly included Cement, Sugar, Fertilizer, Continental Biscuits, Black Tea etc.
He said the federal government and PSQCA has made efforts to resolve the issue on table however, the manufactures in their individual capacity or as an association are not paying the outstanding amount.
The minister said the cases are currently under litigation with different courts of law, which are being followed regularly.