Health Desk- January 3, 2017: Drinking water, bottled in a state-owned factory that is run by physically challenged persons, will get priority in ministries, divisions and related agencies.
The drinking water, branded as Mukta, is bottled in the plant of Maitri Shilpa run by Sharirik Pratibandhi Surakkha Trust (a trust for physically challenged persons) under the social welfare ministry.
Mukta is the official drinking water of Prime Minister's Office, Gono Bhaban, Parliament Secretariat, Secretariat and Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, said Abdullah Al Mamun, executive director of Maitri Shilpa, according to the sources.
Secretary of the social welfare ministry Md Zillar Rahman said he requested other ministries and divisions to use the drinking water for the benefit of the challenged people. He said the quality of the water is good, but the market did not expand much due to inadequate marketing.
The government set up the plant, having bottling capacity and equipment for making plastic products, in 2004 to create jobs for physically challenged people.
The plant bottles 10,000-12,000 litres of water a day in nine bottle sizes, including 250ml, 500ml, 1 litre and 1.5 litres, and sells water at prices equal to those offered by private bottlers.
For example, the retail price of a 500ml bottle of Mukta brand water is Tk 15, said Mamum. He said production capacity of the plant is much higher than it is bottling now. “Our capacity has increased after the modernisation of the plant,” he said, adding that the bottles are manufactured at the plant.
The bottled water market in Bangladesh would be more than Tk 500 crore a year, said industry insiders. The market is expanding fast, attracting multinational firms as well.
Mamun in this connection said Maitri Shilpa employs 75 people and 60 percent of them are physically challenged. They get salaries from the income of the plant, he said.
It is a matter of great hope that the Maitri Shilpa became profitable in fiscal 2014-15, Mamun said.