New Delhi, Feb 28 (UNI) Buoyed by the success of 'Rail Neer', the government today announced that Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) would set up two plants at Chennai and Mumbai for manufacturing of packaged drinking water for rail travellers.
Presenting the Economic Survey, 2007-08, in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the proposed plants at Chennai and Mumbai would augment the capacity of the existing two 'Rail Neer' plants at Nangloi (Delhi) and Danapur (Bihar).
Such a measure would go a long way in ensuring sale of quality packaged drinking water on railway premises and in trains, he said.
A ministry official said the plants at Nangloi and Danapur, set up at a cost of Rs 5.5 crore each, are capable of producing 1.2 lakh bottles of one litre capacity a day, with tamper-proof seal.
''Presently, we are able to meet not even 50 per cent of the requirements by the rail passengers and new plants will go a long way in bridging the gap between demand and supply,'' he pointed out.
The Rail Neer was launched in 2003 by the then Railway Minister Nitish Kumar on a rather low key note, but the positive feedback from the travelling passengers have left the Railways with a lot to cheer about.
The project to provide quality drinking water at an affordable price (Rs 10 for one litre bottle) has been taken up in view of the fact that an estimated 20 per cent of the packaged drinking water consumed in the country is in trains and railway stations.
An official of IRCTC said the high norms of hygiene and cleanliness were being observed in its 'state-of-the-art' bottling plants at Nangloi and Danapur. He said that despite the international standard quality of 'Rail Neer', there was no plan at present to enter the commercial market.
''The immediate objective is to meet the shortfall in supply for the Railways,'' he said, adding that the quality of the packaged water conformed to the stringent norms set up by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and also the European norms for pesticides residues.
Former Minister of State for Railways Bandaru Dattatreya had asserted that the Railways took up the project on a no-profit, no-loss basis and it was only aimed at improving catering services on board and at the stations.
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