• Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019
  • Last Update : 09:08 pm

How a bottled water company is helping people with disabilities

  • Published at 11:09 am May 1st, 2019
web-mukta drinking water
A bottle of Mukta Drinking Water Collected

The government’s official drinking water is now going nationwide

At a water-bottling factory in Tongi, on the outskirts of Dhaka, 75 out of the 81 employees are disabled. 

The water, marketed as Mukta, is a product of the state-owned factory where people with physical impairments are provided with vocational training.

All profits from Mukta are spent on staff salaries and the welfare of disabled people across the nation.

Mukta is bottled at a plant owned by Maitri Shilpa and run by the Sharirik Pratibandhi Surakkha Trust (SPST) — a trust for physically-challenged persons under the Ministry of Social Welfare.

Salim Khan, deputy director of SPST, said: “We spend all of our profit on the well-being of disabled people: their salary, education, clothing, scholarships, etc. The trainings are vocational. We have a lot of machinery. We train the staff to operate and maintain these machines. We want to reintegrate them [disabled people] into the mainstream workforce.”

Furthermore, a portion of the earnings is distributed as a stipend to 128 handicapped undergraduate students—two from each district—across the country. In addition, an educational allowance is also issued to the employees' children.

Mukta began production in 2004, and serves as the official drinking water of almost every government office: the prime minister’s office, secretariat, all ministries, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, and various other autonomous institutions.

The SPST recently took the initiative of taking Mukta nationwide. The trust appointed M/S Sky International as distributor to distribute the product across Dhaka, and several others for distribution in every district.

The distribution campaign was inaugurated on April 29.

Salim Khan proudly announced the opening sales centres in all eight divisions.

When asked why the SPST is appointing distributors after 14 years in production, he replied: “People were not interested in our water before. We lacked some institutional capacity. However, we have made adjustments and grown. Within a few years, things are going to be a whole lot better.”

However, just two years ago, the staff salaries were delayed for nearly a year.

Salim admitted to the slump, saying all dues had since been paid. He said the machinery had become redundant, slowing down production, but with a Tk10 crore grant from the prime minister, the trust was able to turn things around.

The plant collects water from 3,000 feet under the surface level.

Mukta produces 30,000 litres of water every day. It is then bottled in seven sizes of bottles, with the capacity of: 250ml, 300ml, 500ml, 1.5 litres, 2 litres, 5 litres, and a jar containing 20 litres.

Salim hopes to scale up production to 120,000 litres within six months. In order to do so, he stressed the need for new equipment, modernization, automation, and recruits with academic qualifications.

He hoped for Mukta to become a trusted source of earning for people with physical impairments.