Bhat Bhateni Supermarket fined Rs 300,000 for selling expired bottled water to a government agencyFour bottling plants in Kathmandu were also sealed for failing to comply with consumer protection regulations while two were fined.
The Bhat Bhateni Supermarket outlet in Hanumansthan was fined Rs300,000 by the Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection on Friday for failing to comply with consumer protection regulations. The supermarket was found to have sold bottled drinking water past their expiry dates.
Sagar Mishra, director at the department, said that the bottled drinking water being sold to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies had expired. “The supermarket should keep goods past their expiry date separately, but they continued to sell them,” he said. “We have fined the supermarket as per the Consumer Protection Act, 2018 for conducting foul commercial activity.”
The department said that since July 16, 15 water bottling plants have been inspected. Among them, four plants failed to comply with consumer protection regulations and were sealed while two companies were fined.
Vibhuti Water Beverage, based in Dhapakhel, was fined Rs200,000 during a market inspection on Thursday. According to the department, the beverage company was found to be selling water without issuing an invoice. The department also slapped a fine of Rs200,000 on Paribesh Mahat Pani Udhyog, located in Samakhusi, for selling water without a proper invoice, on Wednesday.
Likewise, the department on Tuesday sealed two firms in Budhanilkantha, Sandesh Mineral Water and Aqua Stream Mineral Water followed by Dhapakhel-based Pachali Bhairav Water Processing Industry for not following the minimum standards for selling bottled drinking water. The department also sealed Aqua Sanjeevani Water Purification Industries, based in Tokha, on Wednesday for the same reason.
The department has asked these water bottling producers to present all their documents at the department within seven days.
“Due to the recent floods and landslides, the amount of chloroform and contamination is high during mid-June and mid-July and it increases the possibility of water-borne diseases to make their way into bottled water,” said Mishra. So the inspection team has been focused on inspecting the quality of water in recent days, he said.
According to the World Health Organization, contaminated water can transmit diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery and typhoid. Public health experts have warned that more people could die of water-borne diseases than the coronavirus..
According to the Nepal Bottled Water Industries Association, there are around 550 water bottling plants operating in the country, with 150 plants based in the Kathmandu valley alone.
Subas Bhandari, president of the association said that 75 percent of drinking water is being supplied by private water bottling plants.
Water bottling industry standards directive has been implemented and Bhandari claimed that the directive has been circulated to all water bottling plants. “The bottling plants have improved their quality and adhere to regulations much better than in the past,” he said. “Water bottling firms continue to update the standard regularly to improve the quality of drinking water,” Bhandari added.
The association said that Rs10 billion has been invested in Nepal’s water bottling industry and provides direct employment to nearly 26,000 people. “The water bottling industry has been growing by 5-10 percent annually due to an increasing population,” said Bhandari.
The Department slapped fines totalling Rs30.46 million on 581 companies for misconduct after conducting an inspection on 1,871 firms in the last fiscal year 2019-20.