South Africans travelling to India need to be cautious about the local tap water. Despite India’s infrastructural advancements, there are still many shortfalls in basic services like the water supply. Sometimes the chemical levels in tap water is excessive, especially with substances such as lime. At other times, the water may not have been properly treated and live microorganisms may still be present in the tap water.
While boiling the water may render it safe, it is not always practical to do so like when using water for brushing your teeth or drinking. Travellers are advised to always opt for bottled water. Many five star hotels will have water filtration systems to ensure that the tap water in their establishment is safe but one can never be too sure. Traveller’s diarrhoea, commonly known as Delhi belly, is rife in India.
Types of Bottled Water
There are broadly two types of bottled water in India, as is the case in many other countries :
- Mineral water
- Packaged drinking water
Mineral water, also known as spring water is collected from unpolluted sources. In India, it is often sourced from high up in the Himalayas or so many mineral water bottlers claim. Most reputable establishments only stock mineral water that is safe and has been verified to be of the best quality.
Packaged drinking water is purified through a multi-step process as well as treated with ozone to ensure that all microbes in the water are destroyed. These treatment plants are regulated and the water is frequently monitored by independent authorities to verify that the water is safe and free from any potential water-borne illnesses.
Safe Brands of Drinking Water in India
There are scores of different brands of drinking water in India. Packaged bottled water is often considered the better option as it has been chemically treated and is known to be 100% safe of any contamination. However, safety also depends on the brand. Many unscrupulous bottlers enter the market to sell their products which have not been properly treated. Some of these even print labels and use names that are similar to reputable brands.
Although there are several safe and reputable brands, South Africans should only purchase and consume the following bottled waters. There are various other reputable brands that may only be available in certain cities and states in India that have not been mentioned below. It is always advisable to speak to a local tour guide or the hotel concierge about the best choices for safe drinking water.
Packaged Drinking Water
The safe brands, that are also the most easily available in India, include :
- Bisleri (green top)
Mineral (Spring) Water
Some of the brands of mineral (spring) water that are safe for consumption includes :
Where to buy water?
Water is probably more easily available than any other product in India. There are numerous street vendors selling refrigerated water with a splash of lime. However, travellers should avoid these roadside stalls at all costs as they sometimes refill used empty bottles of reputable brands. Travellers should be cautious at any establishment and ensure that the seal on the water bottle is intact. It is advisable to purchase bottled water only from reputable establishments like chain stores and internationally known fast food outlets.
Last updated 5 August 2012