The water crisis in Pakistan is one of the top most priority of the government these days, and while one aspect of it is building more water reservoirs, another aspect is providing the population clean and safe drinking water. The amount of arsenic reported in the groundwater these days is not only hazardous for health but also going unchecked by the authorities. This has created a huge market for companies wanting to sell clean drinking water to the population. A lot of competitors have made it to the market, selling bottled water without any precautions and getting the water free of cost for themselves. The source of this water is groundwater which belongs to the state and must be paid for if companies wish to cash in on the lack of clean tap water.
The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar is part of the three member bench spearheading the case against water selling companies which sell groundwater under the garb of mineral water and do not pay the state for using the water. People shifted to mineral water because tap water became less and less usable due to the amount of water pollution, mostly because of industrial wastes that are let go in the water streams.
However the use of bottled water has increased without any concern for health hazards. Companies selling bottled water must inform the consumers whether or not they are using filtered groundwater because many but it in the hope of using mineral water. At the same time, the users should also be informed of the consequences of bottled water being heated and producing carcinogens.
A proper mechanism should also be introduced to charge the companies using groundwater. A fixed cost must be paid and an audit of precious transactions should also be made. Pakistan is already facing an acute shortage of water and poisoning of groundwater – in this case, penalties must be introduced to hold companies accountable for discharging waste into water sources and those using groundwater without paying the government.
The CJP is right in pointing out people to using tap water. The main focus should be providing secure and clean tap water to the residents, so that their reliance on costly water can be reduced. The cost for using groundwater for companies should also be set without any pressure to ensure that the government is paid according to the market value and can invest the amount for improvement in the system.