The much-touted Rail Neer bottled water, manufactured by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), has very few takers in its own premises thanks to stall vendors who are reluctant to stock it, since other brands give them a bigger profit margin.
Over 6.57 lakh litres (54,792) crates of Rail Neer is stacked in the IRCTC warehouse at Ambernath. The total requirement of bottled water at major suburban stations on both Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) is over 11,000 crates. However, hardly 500 Rail Neer bottles are sold on these stations
In August 2014, the IRCTC, an enterprise of Indian Railway, commissioned its packaged mineral water bottling plant at Ambernath, so that they can vouch for the quality of water available in trains and railway premises. The IRCTC had invested more than Rs 23 crore to develop this plant and is still spending a huge amount for operation and maintenance.
However, six months down the line, the IRCTC have failed to garner sufficient response on suburban stations, apparently because of lack of support from Western and Central Railways (CR). This is irrespective of the railway board directives, which made availability of Rail Neer mandatory at selected suburban stations.
The railway board has directed the railways to make the bottles available CST, Kurla, Thane, Kalyan, Churchgate, Bombay Central, Dadar, Bandra, Andheri and Borivli.
“As per railway board guidelines, keeping Rail Neer bottles is mandatory at all stalls, but vendors are reluctant since local brands give them a higher profit margin. But, their water purity is not guaranteed. Hence, I request railways to conduct a drive and increase the visibility of Rail Neer,” Virendra Singh, group general manager (GGM), Western Region IRCTC, said.
Shailendra Kumar, divisional railway manager (DRM), WR, said, “As per the railway board rule, Rail Neer should get first preference, but if it’s not available, other brands can be sold. We are conducting drives to make sure that Rail Neer is sold first.”