Along with a rucksack and money bag, foreigners in India always carry a bottle of mineral water because they don't trust tap water. But they should not have faith in the bottle's contents. The non-governmental Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found dangerously high levels of toxic pesticides in 16 leading brands of packaged drinking water sold in New Delhi, Mumbai and other Indian cities. CSE director Sunita Narain said the pesticide levels were 104 times above those permissible in the European Union. According to Ms Narain, the residue of slow-acting chemical pesticides like DDT and malathion found in bottled water samples can cause cancer and damage the liver, kidney, immunity and nervous system. Among the brands which failed the test were Kinley, marketed by Coco Cola's Indian subsidiary and Pepsi's Acquafina. Only the imported brand Evian, available in some leading hotels, was found clean and healthy. Stung by the CSE's findings, federal Food and Consumer Affairs Minister, Sharad Yadav, yesterday constituted a four-member panel to apportion blame and suggest remedies. India's state-run railways and domestic airline said they would review the bottled water they serve passengers, Agence France-Presse reported. 'We are already introducing our own brand, which will be much cheaper and safer,' said M. Y. Siddique, spokesman of Indian Railways, which sells about a fifth of India's bottled water. Aquaplus, the brand used until now by the railways, fared as the worst in the study. All the samples tested met the requirements of the the Bureau of Indian Standards. The bureau's Calcutta director, S. Dasgupta, said: 'The CSE has unnecessarily applied international standards. Our standards are very different considering India's overall living and environmental conditions. The water packaged and sold by Indian companies is not unsafe or unfit for human consumption, although it may not conform to European or American standards.' Under bureau regulations and the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, permissible levels of rat droppings and hair are set for wheat flour and cereals. It is not only foreigners but many health-conscious Indians who rely on bottled water. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry urged the government and society to join hands to ensure drinking water meets global norms.