Wants it to be shifted from platform number one at Mattuthavani bus stand

The State-owned ‘Amma’ packaged drinking water stall at Mattuthavani bus stand here was under attack on Wednesday, not by rival party men or the Election Commission of India, but by a soft drink vendor who complained of loss of business as the stall was put up near his shop.

The soft drink vendor, K. Balakrishnan (53), moved the Madras High Court Bench here seeking a direction to the Madurai Collector, Corporation Commissioner and State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) to shift the water stall to any other place from its present location.

When the writ petition came up for hearing before Justice R. Subbiah, he ordered notice to the officials returnable by a week.

Shop on rent

According to the petitioner, he had taken the shop, at platform number one, on rent from the Corporation on payment of Rs.75,000 towards advance amount.

He was also paying a monthly rent of Rs.8,000 for selling soft drinks, drinking water packaged by private companies, fruits, snacks and other beverages.

Claiming to be in occupation of the shop for the last 15 years, he said his family was dependant on the income earned through it.

The vendor also said he had invested a huge amount of money in the shop by taking loans.

However, the State government in September last, came out with a populist initiative of selling packaged drinking water under the brand name ‘Amma’ at a cost of Rs.10 per litre.

Targeting long-distance bus commuters, two ‘Amma’ drinking water stalls were established at Mattuthavani bus stand here.

While one stall was put up near the entrance of the bus stand, the other was located opposite the petitioner’s shop, he said.

Since the ‘Amma’ water bottles were being sold at a cheaper price, most of the bus commuters chose to purchase them, and “I have been facing heavy loss in my business,” the vendor rued.

Worse situation

The situation had turned so worse that “I am unable to pay the rent, taxes and even salary to my employees,” he added.

Mr.Balakrishnan also accused the SETC officials of having intentionally located the water bottle stall near his shop though there was enough space right outside their office at the same platform.

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