THE Lahore High Court has rightly slapped a ban on a number of so-called mineral water companies for selling contaminated water in Punjab. Their offices, some of which include well-known brands, have been ordered to be sealed. These unscrupulous elements in our midst, playing havoc with the health of the public for the sake of making a quick buck, should be dealt with an iron hand. Reports had been rife that the 'mineral water sold in glamourous bottles was in fact no less polluted than tap water and that the companies, for the sake of profiteering, were taking the consumers for a ride. Credit also goes to a responsible citizen who had sought the help of the judiciary in bringing the culprits to book. It is quite shocking to learn that these companies were operating without any licence for quite some time. It is a sad reflection on the state of the civil administrative system that has proved to be unable to deliver good governance. It is worth pointing out that these mineral water companies had been deftly playing their game. As the reports suggest, they were filling the bottles with ordinary tap water, mostly unfiltered, and arranging for their sale through a marketing campaign. The purity hype created through catchy ads did induce the people to go for the 'safe water. But at an inexorably high price, the consumers had in reality only been buying the tap water. Reportedly, some of the contents and chemical formulae used in the prepartion of the bottled water have been found to be the source of deadly diseases like Cholera. The public are in a double whammy. In their homes they have the tap water, which has time and again been found to be unfit for human consumption by various laboratories. Owing to medical reasons, for newborns, if they go for the packaged water, it lands them in even more trouble. The LHCs decision is a step in the right direction. It certainly gives hope to the public that their rights are being protected. But the executive must also set its house in order. ________