Waste of time? Controversial Indian packaged water plant to launch operations after 12 years

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

A packaged drinking water plant operated by India’s Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has finally reached the final stages of its launch after it was first conceptualized some 12 years ago. ©Getty Images
A packaged drinking water plant operated by India’s Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has finally reached the final stages of its launch after it was first conceptualized some 12 years ago. ©Getty Images

Related tags: India, Water, Packaging

A packaged drinking water plant operated by India’s Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has finally reached the final stages of its launch after it was first conceptualized some 12 years ago and continuously embroiled in controversy ever since.

Christened ‘Thelineer’, the plant has a processing capacity of 7,500 litres per hour and is located in the Thiruvananthapuram District in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala.

According to the KWA via an official statement on its website: “The plant uses reverse-osmosis (RO) technology, along with ultra-violet and ozone sterilization [in order] to produce quality packaged drinking water.”

“The product will be available in [various] sizes: Pouches (200ml), bottles (200ml, 500ml, 1L and  2L) or a refillable can (20L).”

The plant was originally set to begin commercial operations in March this year, but this has been delayed to July due to various  setbacks.,

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) concluded an inspection at the plant last month, with samples currently being processed in the laboratory. Upon confirmation that the test results pass muster, KWA can then proceed to apply for authorisation from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Kerala Water Resources Minister K. Krishnankutty told local media earlier this year that the department had yet to decide on product prices, but that ‘‘The price will be affordable to the public.’’

Controversial water

Thelineer was first conceptualised by the KWA back in 2007, and was granted administrative approval in 2013. Multiple delays later, it was re-tendered in 2015.

Just last year, the project was further postponed when Kerala’s then-Additional Chief Secretary (Labour, Excise and Water Resources) Tom Jose (now Chief Secretary of State) wrote a letter to the then-KWA Managing Director A. Shainamol opposing the plant.

“[There] are so many private bottlers in the packaged drinking water segment. KWA should not waste its time in that segment,”​ wrote Jose’s secretary in the letter on his behalf.

“Instead KWA should concentrate on [other areas] like distribution network, waste water treatment, etc.”

The government decided to proceed with the project nonetheless.

According to New Indian Express,​ so far the government has spent some US$1.9mn (INR134mn) on the project. Speaking to the Kerala Legislative Assembly, Krishnankutty also mentioned that a trial run had already been successfully completed on April 12.

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