IRCTC invites tenders for packaged drinking water plant at Parassala
Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of Railways, has expedited the process to roll out packaged drinking water from Kerala for sale onboard trains and stations. The product will be named ‘Rail Neer’ as in other parts of the country.
The IRCTC has invited tenders for the proposed plant to come up in railway land near Parassala on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. The plant in Parassala has been proposed in the public-private-partnership mode on Build, Own, Operate, and, Transfer (BOOT) basis. Railways will provide 4,000 square metres of land for 15 years to those selected through bidding. Apart from the land cost, the plant needs an investment of Rs.6 crore as per current estimates.
It is estimated that one lakh bottles of water will be rolled out a day from Parassala. The source of the water has not been disclosed. Railways will insist on adherence to Euro standards, going beyond the parameters laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
The fully automatic bottling plant will have to produce and supply packaged drinking water in specified sizes of one litre and 500 ml conforming to IS 14543: 2004 specification exclusive to Indian Railways.
At present, the packaged water produced at the newly commissioned plant at Palur in Tamil Nadu is distributed on trains starting from Chennai and Bangalore. It is also distributed to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and some regions of Kerala.
The daily requirement of packaged drinking water in the railway network is approximately 30 lakh bottles a day. At present, IRCTC can provide only 3.8 lakh bottles a day. The aim is to take it to 5.8 lakh bottles a day by the end of this year.
‘Rail Neer,’ which was launched 11 years ago, gave an income of Rs.45.15 crore in 2011-12, as against the Rs.23.96 crore in the previous year. Railways are looking into IT-based product verification to prevent counterfeit and substandard produce from being distributed.
Parassala was selected for setting up the plant, sidelining the earlier decision to base it near Thiruvananthapuram, for which 2430 square metres of land near Karamana was identified. The proposal then was to source water from the Karamana river.