ISLAMABAD: It was shocking to note dozens of unhygienic bottled water brands being sold in the market openly while the department concerned failed to take action against the units producing unsafe water for drinking. The units that were producing unsafe water included a big number of unregistered and registered factories across the country. It was observed that once a unit was sealed due to being unhygienic it starts all over again functioning under a new name. A number of factories were operating with an illegal brand name while many others were working with the fake titles of original companies. Hospitals, bus stops, recreational places, kiosks etc are the main points where the fake or unregistered water bottled brands are being sold and causing diseases among the masses. People mostly choose to drink mineral water other than the regular water but most of them are unaware about the reality as to which brand is original, hygienic and safe for drinking. The PCRWR’s last three quarterly reports had declared 35 bottled brand as unsafe and unhygienic for human consumption during an analysis. The monitoring report of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) for the quarter from October to December, 2016 had declared 11 bottled water brands unsafe due to chemical and microbiological contaminations, which include Well Care, Lite Aqua, New Premier, Royal Blue, Aqua Safe, Aqua Drink Water, Rahat, Oslo, NG Fresh Water, Nurturmil Water and Aab e Khoob). The department had collected 78 samples of mineral/bottled water brands from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Quetta, Peshawar, Muzaffarabad Faisalabad, Sargodha, Multan, Lahore and Tando Jam. According to PCRWR, out of the unsafe brands, seven brands: Well Care, Lite Aqua, New Premier, Royal Blue, Aqua Safe, Aqua Drink Water and Rahat) had comparatively high levels of Arsenic ranging from 12-34 ppb than the PSQCA water quality standard for arsenic (10 ppb). The report revealed that only two brands were legal while the other nine were unregistered and working illegally. A previous quarterly report of PCRWR dated July to September 2016 had declared the brands: Premier Fresh, Well Care, National, Siiz Cool, New ARBO, Cottage Foods Drink Water, Reliable, Pacific Pure, OAS Water and Aqua National as unsafe. Likewise, a report of April to June also added 13 brands to the unhygienic manufacturers’ list, which include Aquwa Plus, New Nation, Osam, Well Care, Royal Oasis, Blue Plus, Livon, Al-Habib, Aqua National, Nation, Naimat and Siiz Cool Royal blue. An official of PCRWR said that the responsibility of the department was just to prepare a monitory report quarterly and send it to all the concerned authorities in the federal and provincial governments to take action against these brands. He said no formal actions were being taken against these illegal and fake brands which are free to play with the lives of public. The PSQCA had sealed about 128 units during the last eight months, said DG PSQCA Khalid Siddique. He said the department had its own mechanism of monitoring and taking action against the unhygienic water brands in the market. “We collect information through the media, PCRWR reports and other sources about the fake brands,” he said. The department, he said, was working on a task to introduce a QR system that would stop the printing of illegal duplicate or fake printing of any bottled water brand across the country.