Will be sold to passengers using State Express Transport Corporation buses

Kicking off its latest populist initiative, the government on Sunday began selling packaged drinking water to long-distance bus commuters at a price of Rs. 10 for a litre.

Branded as ‘Amma’ drinking water after Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the product will be sold to passengers using State Express Transport Corporation buses, and also retailed at bus terminuses across the state.

Facility inaugurated

Ms. Jayalalithaa made the first sale to Transport Minister V. Senthil Balaji. She also inaugurated the transport corporation’s packaging facility at Gummidipoondi in Tiruvallur district through video conferencing from the Secretariat. The plant has come up on a 2.47 acre facility. It can process three lakh litres of water every day.

The transport department runs the plant that has come up on land belonging to the Institute of Road Transport. A government press release said that Amma water was priced lower than Rail Neer, the Railways’ drinking water product sold for Rs. 15 a litre.

On Sunday, water bottles were sold through stalls at the Chennai Moffusil Bus Terminus (CMBT) at Koyambedu from where a total of 2,100 buses are operated 2,900 times a day. Over 2.5 lakh passengers pass through CMBT every day, where packaged water made other producers is sold at price ranging from Rs. 20 to Rs. 25 a litre.

Sneha Ravi, a passenger at the CMBT, welcomed the initiative and said it would serve the needy. She suggested that water could be supplied free of cost to senior citizens and physically disabled persons who travel on buses.

‘Amma’ water bottles will hit the markets elsewhere in the State from Monday. In Coimbatore, the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation expects to sell around 13,000 one-litre bottles a day through 13 stalls in various bus stations.

In Madurai, some TNSTC trade union office-bearers felt that the government should not be in a hurry to gain popularity. Bus crews were facing several constraints and the additional responsibility of selling ‘Amma’ water would affect the work of drivers and conductors. A functionary attached to the ruling party’s trade union, however, said that the ambitious scheme would be very popular among the passengers, as private players charged much more for packaged water. A senior TNSTC official in Tiruchi said the bottles of water would be available for sale at the Central and Chatram bus stands in the city and least one major bus stand in every Assembly constituency in the central districts from Monday.