State Transport Corporations to set up plants

The State government will manufacture and supply cost-effective mineral water, as part of its emphasis on programmes aimed at reducing the impact of inflation on the poor.

In an announcement on Friday, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said she had directed State Transport Corporations to set up ‘Amma Mineral Water’ plants across Tamil Nadu. They will market mineral water, packaged in plastic bottles, at Rs.10 a litre. The price line would make the product attractive, as private brands were sold at Rs.20 a litre and that of Railways at Rs.15.

The government decision to market safe packaged drinking water is in line with similar measures aimed at helping households beat the inflation. Prominent among them are Amma Canteens that serve food at subsidised rates and the opening of farm-fresh vegetable outlets on Thursday.

The first of the ten mineral water plants is to be established in Gummidipoondi in neighbouring Tiruvallur district. The plant, with a capacity to produce three lakh litres a day, would be opened on the birth anniversary of former Chief Minister C. Annadurai on September 15. Sale from the plant would start on the same day.

According to the Chief Minister, the equipment required for the plants will be procured by the Institute of Road Transport. Mineral water bottles will be sold on long distance government buses, bus terminuses in Chennai and mofussil terminuses in all districts.

In the statement, Ms.Jayalalithaa lashed out at the Centre for its economic and fiscal policies that had led to an increase in the prices of essential commodities, resulting in considerable burden on the common man.

Move lauded

The government’s decision to introduce bottled drinking water for Rs.10, manufactured and run by transport department employees, was lauded by transport department employees, commuters and manufacturers of packaged drinking water.

Both the sections feel that it should not be made into a commercial venture and the water should be pure unlike some of the bottled water sold in bus depots across the city. The government has decided to start the water units in 10 places, including a 55-acre plot belonging to the Institute of Road Transport at Gummidipoondi.

According to sources, one unit can produce around three lakh litres of water. “There are around 1.24 lakh transport employees in the state. The plant will be run by them. So there will not be any need to invest in additional manpower. We will be training them in running the units,” said a source.

After manufacturing and packaging, the employees will distribute it to all bus depots in the state. “Though the bottle will be priced at Rs.10, we will not compromise on quality. The price will not be increased even if the demand increases,” said the source.