State government plans to set up plants at nine more centres

On the lines of the low budget canteens introduced within the corporation limits in the State, Amma drinking water has proved a hit with passengers. The sales on the first two days have indicated that the demand outstripped the supply in each and every stall put up in the delta districts. This is likely to serve all sections of commuters, travelling in the long-distance SETC buses and in the mofussil buses operated by the TNSTC. The mineral water is sold at a subsidised price of Rs. 10 a litre.

The SETC has put up a stall on the platform earmarked for its buses at central bus stand while the TNSTC has opened stalls at central bus stand, Chathiram bus stand, Srirangam, Samayapuram tollgate, Lalgudi and Tiruverumbur. Officials of the SETC and the TNSTC said that there has been overwhelming response from the commuters and the demand was much higher than the expectations. The SETC has to take care of passengers travelling in its two classic buses proceeding to Chennai from the quota allotted to it.

At present, only one plant with a production capacity of three lakh litres a day set up at Gummidipoondi in Tiruvallur district has to cater to the needs of the entire State.

The State government has planned to set up similar plants in nine more centres, a senior SETC official said.

Currently, the SETC is providing the water to the people travelling in its classic buses. It has planned to extend the facility to those who travel in all the SETC buses in the near future. The SETC and the TNSTC have appealed to the headquarters to increase the supply to the delta districts as early as possible.

Consumers and service organisations have welcomed the move. “It will put an end to the predicament of passengers to depend on water sold in sachets at stops en route risking their health,” says Kesavan Ravi, a consumer activist from Subramaniapuram.

A section of commuters wanted that the price could be brought down in order to take it to the weaker section. “When an idly is sold at Re. 1 in the low budget canteens, the price of Rs. 10 for a litre of mineral water will prove on the higher side to the poor and downtrodden,” says Kulasekaran, a construction worker from a village near Manapparai, who frequents the city every day.

Provision of drinking water to commuters is not new. In the past, all the long-distance buses operated by the erstwhile Tiruvalluvar Transport Corporation had silver water drums filled with potable water. But this has become a thing of the past.

The previous DMK regime in 2009 announced the implementation of a scheme of installing 20-litre mineral water cans in all the long-distance SETC buses. It planned to stock two 20-litre cans in each bus and special stands were fixed in the buses. The SETC also announced that it was on the look-out for sponsors for paper cups for the supply of drinking water to passengers in the running buses.

The Railways has been supplying mineral water to the train commuters free of cost in major stations, including Tiruchi and Thanjavur for the past few years. It has set up mini reverse osmosis plants at these junctions.