The apple juice outlets run by the Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Marketing Processing Corporation Limited (HPMC) at railway stations are set to become the thing of the past.
Though 11 HPMC outlets were functioning in railway stations in the Southern Railway’s Chennai division last year, they are down to three now and they too are facing closure. “The licence has not been renewed and we have sent representations and are keeping our fingers crossed,” says HPMC (a Himachal Pradesh govt. undertaking) salesman A. Achan Kunju, who manages the outlets in Chennai Beach and Tambaram stations. The outlet in Egmore may close in August.
When contacted, B. Guganesan, Chief Public Relations Officer, Southern Railway, said: “Contract for HPMC stalls were awarded by Chennai division. They were given the benefit of dies non during the pandemic. They are not eligible for renewal now as HPMC is a corporation, not co-operative society. Now fruit and fruit juice stalls will be set up in the place of HPMC stalls with the aim of providing more choice to passengers, especially in the light of growing awareness about healthy eating habits.”
R. Kasthuri, who regularly uses the Chennai Fort and Nungambakkam stations, recalls the chilled cups of juices she would have at these outlets. Another regular commuter on the Chennai Beach–Tambaram route K. Thirumalai says, “The apple juice here was known for their quality and affordability, which cost ₹10 a cup. Many people have so many sentimental memories of the juice.”
Former HPMC’s Regional Manager (Southern Region) V.C. Jaya Kumar says, “HPMC has been part of commuters’ lives. We hope the Railways considers this request and extend the HPMC presence on railway stations across the country.”