THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The ambitious Thelineer bottled water plant project, conceived by the Kerala Water Authority, is yet to see the light of day. Though the facilities are ready, pending approval of mandatory licences for the plant has made it impossible for the KWA to sell the products in the market.
Though KWA officers said an inspection for the licence will begin on Tuesday, All Kerala Water Authority Employees Union AITUC president alleged the KWA was working in the interest of the private companies, thereby delaying the project purposefully.
“Officers from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) will begin inspections of the plant from Tuesday. It is a month-long process which includes label certification. The FSSAI certification will be approved only once we achieve the BIS certificate.
That would be a short process involving two or three days,” said A Noushad, executive engineer of Aruvikkara Water Bottling Project. “Presently, bottled water is being produced in the plant. However, owing to pending approval, it cannot sell the water. Once the inspection is completed and the approvals are sanctioned, the KWA will most probably be able to launch its product by July,” he said.
The KWA employees unions allege the authorities interest in helping private companies is the main reason for the delay of the project. “The summer season was the best time to introduce the KWA’s owned packaged water. However, the authorities are still delaying the project citing lame reasons. As it is a government-owned unit, the prices will be more affordable. Also, the quality of water can be more relied upon compared to those produced by private companies,” said KWA employees union - AITUC working president M M George.
According to KWA officers, the plant will produce 500 ml, one-litre, two-litre bottles and 15-litre bottles. It will be made available in government offices across the state and through small-scale traders and Kudumbashree units.
The plant was initially delayed due to non-participation of bidders for the tender. Comptroller and Auditor General of India Report in 2013 criticised KWA for the delay in implementation of the project. It was revived in 2015 after the tender was re-floated. Trials were conducted at the plant in February. The KWA higher officer said a final decision on Thelineer’s price is yet to be taken. ‘‘The representatives have already submitted the price proposal but it is yet to be finalised,’’ said the officer.