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Monday, October 7, 2013

Amma mineral water takes the State by storm....

The immediate reaction was one of criticism – some were questioning whether the Govt should be doing this … retail sales… [none dares to question the wisdom of Govt selling liquor though !!]

It was acclaimed to be a ‘populist move’……… whether it fetches the Govt – votes or not, it sure is now seen as a good welfare move… it is the packaged drinking water project of Tamilnadu Chief Minister Ms J Jayalalithaa……. ‘the amma water scheme’ formally launched on 15th Sept. 2013.  The project involves production and packaging of mineral water in 1-litre bottles, and selling them in long-distance running state-owned buses and in bus terminuses. The price has been fixed at Rs. 10 per bottle. The project is intended to make purified water available to people of all strata, at a reasonable cost. The ‘amma water’ as of now is more popular than the earlier launched popular scheme ‘Amma Unavagam’.

State of Tamilnadu started basking in idlies thanks to the Unavagam project launched in Apr 2013.  Residents of all 200 wards in Chennai as also in many other districts now have an idli (100g) at 1, sambar rice (350g) at 5 and curd rice (350g) at 3. The budget canteens are set to provide dinner and chapathis in that too….

Remember your school days…. [if you are 40+] ~ there used to be rusted iron pipes from the water tank……. Students would line before the water tank [very thought would make modern day youngsters and mothers scary] – there would be no tumblers or receptacles,  one would  open the tab / lift the nozzle, keep one’s hand in a manner that falling water would find its way to the mouth……none cared to check of its purity, taste, colour, odour and more…….. a few decades earlier, perhaps none would have imagined that water would be ‘crore industry – with multi-brands’ ruling the market…life has changed since !!  Water today is a hot selling commodity – with Multinationals and big Corporates having their own brands and another chunk being garnered by local companies calling themselves ‘packaged water providers’.  From potable water to mineral water, as it was sold in the beginning……  mineral water actually, is water from a mineral spring containing various minerals such as salts and sulphur compounds, much water has flowed…..

Though the packaged water that you get in bottles / cans of various capacities…… may not even be chemically treated water containing any minerals ~ people are finicky, most cannot drink water in hotels, restaurants and public places but buy mineral water bottles – some cannot survive without specified brands.  Indian Railways which carries millions everyday, turned to their own brand – ‘rail neer’, a branded packaged drinking water for the rail commuters handled through IRCTC. 

It is a Nation where in most States, people do not have access to quality potable water ~ but still vie to keep buying luxury mobile handsets at fancy prices….. every tab, every new phone sells thousands on the day of its launch….despite the fact that a high % of features are never used by the actual user. 

The Nation is water parched and people do not get their most fundamental right and valued source -  water.  Remember, a few months ago, in the midst of a torrid summer,  when Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board  conducted checks  - the immediate reaction of hundreds of units operating without permission was to challenge and fleece their own committed consumers… prices sky-rocketed as the sellers stopped supplies  holding people to ransom.  So bubbletops were not supplied though they had enough supplies…

The Govt. challenging hoarders, making the established players run for life, and providing quality water at an unbelievably low rate – needs to be appreciated for sure.

On 15th Sept. 2013, Chief Minister 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. ‘Amma water’ has taken the State by storm.   Water bottles are being 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.  So, water to parched passengers has been really welcome by many….and being hailed as a great welfare measure.  

It also serves a good warning signal to many small and big retailers who have been fleecing people with high prices [sometimes more than the MRP]…

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6th Oct 2013.

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