CHENNAI: Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday inaugurated the latest in her government’s chain of measures to fight price rise. After Amma Unavagams, Amma Water and Amma Salt, she inaugurated 10 Amma Medical Shops through videoconferencing. The pharmacies are meant to function as fair price shops, and seem to have captured the attention of locals.
Jayalalithaa inaugurated two shops each in Madurai, Salem and Virudhunagar Districts, and one each in Kancheepuram, Cuddalore, Erode and Sivaganga Districts. Each of the shops has been built at a cost of Rs. 10 lakh, and are located in busy areas. The shops are equipped with a computer for billing and inventory tracking, and the staffing has been outsourced.
The distribution of the shops also signifies a shift in the focus from Chennai and its suburbs for the launch of such schemes as pilot projects before being expanded to other parts of the State.
The only shop in Chennai is at Nanganallur, which falls in the Kancheepuram District. The inauguration of the Amma Medical Shops coincide with the 60th year of the Nanganallur Co-operative Society, where the shop has been located.
Even before it has actually commenced sales, the Nanganallur store has already attracted about 200 people over the past two days, most of them making enquiries about price differences.
S Vasan, a retired employee of a public sector insurance company, said, “My wife is a heart patient and her medical bill comes to `5,000 every month. Even if the prices are 10 per cent below that of other shops, it would be worth it.”
Another possible effect the Amma Medical Shops might have is to change the nature of inventories in other pharmacies in the area, or the medicines prescribed by local doctors.
“There are 124 medical shops in Nanganallur. Doctor usually prescribe medicines that are easily available and pharmacies sell brands on which they get a greater commission. The new shops can change this practice,” said Lakshmipathy, an autorickshaw driver.