Though bus passengers are happy with the launch of Amma packaged water at Rs. 10 per litre, a section of packaged water vendors at Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus in Koyambedu, are not.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday launched the product at the Secretariat.
Vendors say their business will be affected by the low-cost product that is to be sold at bus termini across the State. Different brands of packaged drinking water are sold at CMBT — where thousands of passengers board buses every day — between Rs. 20 and 25 a litre.
“I sell around 320 bottles a day during weekdays and the number increases on weekends. During festival seasons, my sales more than double. These low-cost water bottles on the platforms will naturally affect our sales.” said Arumugam, who runs an eatery at the terminus.
There are shops that sell packaged drinking water and snacks, whose daily sales touch around 600 bottles.
“I sell local brands and my margin is around Rs. 10 per bottle. Though the margin may seem a bit steep, I need that amount to manage my business as rents inside CMBT are higher than those outside,” said Hussein, who has been in the business for 10 years now.
However, a few traders said that it was too early say that their business would be affected. “People still do not know about Amma Neer and for many passengers water, food and snacks are only secondary to boarding their bus on time. Only if their bus is delayed or they have time on their hands do they look to buy such items,” said a trader.
P. Karunakaran, a regular traveller to Villupuram, welcomed the launch of Amma packaged drinking water. “The government must ensure that there is enough supply. On Sunday, at the Metropolitan Transport Corporation’s Ambattur terminus, there were not enough Amma water bottlers for passengers. Those who had it said it tasted good,” he said.
T. Ravikumar, president, All India Rail and Bus Passengers’ Welfare Association, however criticised the launch.
“One per cent of the ticket cost goes towards paying for maintenance of basic amenities including provision of safe drinking water, shelter, toilets and lights in bus termini. The government, instead of launching packaged drinking water at cheap prices, should ensure that basic amenities in bus termini are improved across the State, he said.