Pure myth

When was the last time you drank water straight from the tap at your house to slake thirst on a hot summer day, without hesitation. Chances are you would have at least boiled or filtered the water. The public water supply in India is so unreliable that the urban middle class, with its increased spending power, prefers shelling out an extra buck on one of the numerous water purifiers available in the market, rather than risk health. In a decade or two, more than half of India will live in urban areas. Will they have better options? ...
There is no denying a rising demand for purifiers. But what are these technologies and how effective are they? What are the standards they conform to? suresh babu s v studies the purifier market and technologies for answers.

 
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

Pure myth

Down to EarthWhen was the last time you drank water straight from the tap at your house to slake thirst on a hot summer day, without hesitation. Chances are you would have at least boiled or filtered the water. The public water supply in India is so unreliable that the urban middle class, with its increased spending power, prefers shelling out an extra buck on one of the numerous water purifiers available in the market, rather than risk health. In a decade or two, more than half of India will live in urban areas. Will they have better options? Unlikely. The country does not have the capacity to treat more than 80 per cent of the waste generated in urban houses, leading to pollution of surface and ground water. The quality of groundwater is also deteriorated because of overexploitation. Bad water, of course, is bad health. Says Manoj K Ved, a doctor practising in Mumbai's Gorai area "On an average, 25 per cent of the cases I attend to are related to water-borne diseases."

Water-purifier manufacturers and dealers make bad water a selling point. There is a host of brands and varieties to choose from--from Aquaguard and Pureit to Zero B. But how many of us can make an informed choice? "People do not really know the correct criteria for choosing the right purifier," says Ashim Sanyal, chief operating officer, voice, a Delhi-based consumer rights ngo. Never mind, the salesman is at your doorstep, hoping to convince you that his purifier is the best in the market. Water-purifier manufacturers are even tying up with builders to install household-treatment systems or centralized plants for upcoming colonies. "There is a huge demand from builders to install reverse osmosis ( ro) systems in residential areas. The cost is passed down to the buyers," says C K Sandeep, associate vice-president, Ion Exchange India. "We have installed over 3,000 ro systems in our projects in ncr, Lucknow and other places," says Ajay Kumar, director, Amarpali Group. Some builders have gone a step ahead and installed large ro plants for the entire residential colony, which manages its own water supply. Alok Vihar, a group housing society in Noida, for one uses a central, three-step purifying system a carbon filter to remove taste and odour, a secondary filter for removing impurities up to the size of 0.2 micron and finally an ro membrane. The treated water is filled in 20-litre cans and delivered at door steps. "Groundwater here is brackish. Since we did not have a municipal water supply, there was no option but to go for an ro plant," says Anil Bhalla, one of the residents.

There is no denying a rising demand for purifiers. But what are these technologies and how effective are they? What are the standards they conform to? suresh babu s v studies the purifier market and technologies for answers.

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