Floating supermarket below sea level in Kerala

Gods own bazaar

The floating superstore. DH photo by R Gopakumar

Courtesy, the Kerala State Cooperative Consumers Federation Ltd or Consumerfed, the ‘Floating Triveni Super Store' is a supermarket set up on a 1000 sq ft space on board a 16-metre-long and six-metre wide boat.

"The store will sell about 2,000 consumer items including essential commodities. It is much much bigger than the boats carrying eateries on Dal lake or floating markets in countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Venezuela which sell agricultural produces,'' says Consumerfed managing director Riji Nair.

"The Rs 50-lakh boat made from fibre steel-laminated fero cement will take the consumer items to the doorsteps of millions who live in isolated and inaccessible areas,'' said Cooperation Minister G Sudhakaran after inaugurating the boat's journey.

Powered by solar energy and manned by eight staff including the driver and shrank, the boat will permit 15 consumers to make their purchase at a time and would initially have 30 stopovers in Kuttanad. The stock and price fluctuations are monitored and updated instantly through a dedicated network connected to the super store.

Consumerfed is a market intervention agency functioning in the cooperative sector which has 85 Triveni stores and Neethi outlets supplying edible items, cooking gas, medicines as well as 46 retail liquor shops. Consumerfed supplies various items at 2 per cent discount than the market price and 3 per cent cheaper to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Sudhakaran said that the government had plans to launch similar floating super stores in other water-logged areas in the state if the Kuttanad store is found commercially viable.

Kuttanad is a region with the lowest altitude in India, with 500 square kilometres of the region below sea level. Its elevation ranges from 0.6 m above to 2.2 metres below sea level. Most of the area is covered with water throughout the year.

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