Weekday Squib: India to ban public consumption of water

A sign of things to come

CHENNAI: After a ban on smoking in public places, and imposing controls on alcohol, Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss is now eyeing the water bottle. A national policy on consumption of water in public places will be soon be implemented in the country, Dr Ramadoss said.

He said consultation with experts have begun but refused to elaborate. “On weekends, especially in the summer months, in cities like Bangalore and Chennai even women and children are going on smoking and drinking binge. It’s a dangerous trend. We’ll have to intervene and regulate the system. Just like alcohol consumption, water consumption poses a grave threat to India, the nation with 600 million people less than 30 years of age,” he said.

“The Constitution mandates all states to exercise prohibition but except J&K and Gujarat none of the states follow it. Prohibition is a state subject, I would urge all state governments to enforce to total prohibition. And since people who consume alcohol also mix it with water, banning water consumption will further strengthen the prohibition. Furthermore, water consumption is responsible for another public health hazard—illegal urination in public places like sidewalks, compound walls and corridors of government offices. Curbing water consumption in public places will reduce the threat of contagious diseases that arise from illegal urination”

The Union health ministry intends to replicate its successful formula—first employed against cigarette smoking—in the war against public consumption of water. “Watching film and sporting celebrities drink water in public, even small children get influenced. Even children in small towns and villages are demanding water bottles now. So I ask the film industry and BCCI to co-operate with us and refrain from on-screen water consumption. If they do not co-operate we will regulate.”

Dr Ramadoss stated that calling attention to fighting malnutrition, infant mortality, infectious diseases through the improvement of the national health care system is playing into the hands of the tobacco, alcohol and bottled water lobbies. He hinted that these lobbies are very powerful and had so shaped the UN’s millennium development goals (MDGs) so as to distract attention from India’s real health risks: cigarettes, alcohol and water.

Related Link: A sober one at Swaraj