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Life in big cities is fast and hectic. Often as we step out of our homes or our jobs, classes, shopping etc., we pick up bottled water from a shop or canteen to quench our thirst. The first thing a waiter will ask you in a restaurant is, “Regular water or bottled water?” I have seen many clients at office telling the canteen boy to make ‘nimbu paani in mineral water’. I also followed the same routine – sipping out of the little PET bottles whenever I ran out of water I brought from home.

After all, bottled water is safe to drink…Strangely, I realised every time I drank bottled water not only did it taste funny but also made my stomach very uneasy. A colleague of mine had an unexplainable stomach ache for more than four months…and he drinks only bottled water. I had a feeling that something was wrong with the water we were consuming. What I feared was confirmed by an article in one of the leading newspapers. The headline read: ‘Shocking – Over 10,000 Illegal bottled water units in Delhi and NCR’.

What we believed to be pure so far is actually water that is bottled in small by-lanes of various slums (which you will never step into) with no hygiene, no testing of the water samples and sometimes with corpses of cockroaches and flies in the water containers. So, if the bottle says it’s pure Himalayan water enriched with minerals and extra oxygen, it can actually be water enriched with dead insects packed in the worst possible conditions!

So far my worry used to be the poor quality of the plastic bottle which constantly leaches chemicals like bisphenol-A, BPA and phthalates as it reacts with the water (faster if exposed to heat) and makes it unfit for drinking. But now, forget the bottle even the water that it contains seems to be no good!

The article also said that only 64 water bottling plants have licence to supply packed drinking water to Delhi and NCR. In fact 2000 people were caught running illegal plants in North Delhi alone and no action has been taken against them. While licensed water bottling plants sell around 10,000 water bottles every day, the unlicensed bottling plants manage to sell 30,000-40,000 bottles every day. The difference in the number is appalling. Bottled water frequently travels thousands of miles to reach people who already have clean (or cleaner) tap water readily available, taxing on the precious energy resources of the world, besides being unfit for drinking in many cases. The next time you drink a bottle of water, take a look at the label to see where it came from and how far it travelled.

I understand we all are busy trying to make a living and enjoying life but let us not do it at the cost of our health. Let us be more aware of what we consume. Carrying water from home in glass or steel bottles would not only improve our health but also reduce the number of plastic bottles that end up in landfills and the sea.

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