Ultra-cheap bottled water in India

An impoverished village in eastern India has established a water purification and bottling plant after years of suffering illnesses from drinking polluted groundwater.

Charity workers from Sulabh International have helped residents in Madusudankati to create what they claim is the world’s cheapest bottle of drinking water – costing less than one US cent per litre.

Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the Indian charity, said the plant started operating several months ago with the capacity to produce 8,000 litres of potable water per day.

“The water costs 50 paise (less than one cent) per litre, which makes it the cheapest purified bottled water in the world,” he said.

“The village cooperative has been entrusted to supply the water in 20-litre PET bottles to households, shops and markets in the area. It is also being supplied free to schools.”

Prior to the establishment of the plant, residents of Madusudankati – close to the border with Bangladesh – reportedly suffered from skin and other diseases blamed on arsenic in ground water pumped from wells.

India has a long history of abuse to its groundwater supplies, including from pesticides, industrial pollution and runoff from untreated sewage, as well as over-exploitation, especially for irrigation.

The new treatment and bottling plant was jointly developed by Sulabh and French NGO (non-governmental organisation) 1001 Fontaines.