Fake-label mineral water on trains
S. Vijay Kumar
While the actual cost of the "duplicate" water bottle would come to Rs. 4 each, it would be sold at Rs. 10 to the passenger.
Look alikes: Some of the duplicate mineral water bottles seized by railway officials in Madurai division.
MADURAI: : Supply of adulterated drinking water is being suspected in the Southern Railway with the detection of large-scale "duplicate" mineral water bottles on trains and railway premises in its Madurai Division.
Officials who unearthed the clandestine supply claimed that contaminated mineral water was on sale in all the five divisions of Southern Railway for several years causing a huge revenue loss. Preliminary investigations showed that a major chunk of the mineral water put on sale was "contaminated".
During a surprise check on the Madurai-Chennai Vaigai Superfast Express pantry car recently, a special team found mineral water bottles with a wrong brand name.
The wrapper, print contents and packing appeared almost similar to the original bottle. Immediate raids conducted on vending stalls in Madurai, Virudhunagar and other stations brought to light sale of "duplicate" water bottles.
When a sample was sent to the laboratory, the test results pointed to excess alkalinity. A stall vendor at the Virudhunagar railway station was levied a penalty of Rs. 500.
The inspection team has sought a report from the Senior Divisional Commercial Manager in Madurai on how "duplicate" mineral water bottles found their way to the Vaigai Express and railway premises.
Going by the existing quality control mechanism, a senior doctor and Health Inspector have to make surprise checks on the quality of mineral water supplied to passengers.
The Commercial Branch Inspectors have to monitor the supply and sale aspects.
Officials have strong reasons to believe that a majority of the mineral water bottles sold in the recent years on trains and railway premises contained contaminated water.
"We have referred the issue to the Vigilance Department for an enquiry. For nearly a decade now, duplicate mineral water bottles, made by both the supplier and local manufacturers, were sold to passengers at the price of original bottles. Enquiries with the vendors and local manufacturers revealed that the sale of misbranded mineral water was an usual affair in all the divisions," a senior railway official told The Hindu.
Since purchase of mineral water bottles from the railway stores was mandatory, the indent would be put for a "bare minimum requirement."
The excess needs would be met with local supply that would not be accounted. "While the actual cost of the duplicate, considered as adulterated, water bottle would come to Rs. 4 each, it would be sold at Rs. 10 to the passenger. The rule that every mineral water bottle should have the words - specially packed for Southern Railway - printed on the wrapper, was given a go by. Some branded soft drink items also contained wrong addresses which is again not permitted," he added.