The scarcity and impurity of the water resources in Pakistan are two of the most pressing issues for this country which is expected to run out of the water by 2025 if no relevant measures are taken. The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar taking notice of the mineral water companies in Pakistan on their use of groundwater in the country is nothing but commendable. Over the years, we have witnessed how many corporate giants package their products for the consumers and misinform them. At this point, there are around 12 companies selling filtered groundwater in the name of mineral water.

This is a gross violation of the rights of the consumers - which may not be widely known in Pakistan but there certainly was a need to draw attention to them. Water is a national resource - this means that everyone has a right to its availability and no corporate foundation can take hold of this groundwater and sell it to the residents. The CJP is right to launch an inquiry into the matter especially after the groundwater resources are depleting and citizens have to pay for it. Companies need to have a permit if they are going to access groundwater like this because they are making profits off a resource which belongs to all.

At the same time, companies which package ground filtered water as mineral water must be penalised. This should be categorised as fraudulent behaviour and a precedent must be set in order to rid the society of it. A proper check and balance mechanism must be set in order to ensure that the consumers are not misinformed regarding the products that they consume. This is how consumer awareness can be raised within the country and a network of accountability will also be created and corporate giants will be held accountable for what they package for the consumers.

Companies that want to sell groundwater must have licenses to do it. If they are not paying the government for utilising a national resource and selling it, then they should not be allowed to function anymore. No amount of influence should be allowed to save a resource which is being depleted and this is the right time to take action. Dam building is already being discussed, along with the purification of arsenic water and an inquiry regarding the Saaf Paani Project. Accountability of the water companies is the next step we need.