Come rain or shine, for some it’s business as usual. They have to deliver essential goods and services and deliver them they will. Employees of state-run milk cooperative Aavin, traffic policemen, doctors and hospital staff, corporation workers and newspaper hawkers all braved the unprecedented showers in the city over the past 10 days to show up at work.

An Aavin employee’s workday starts at 11pm, a day in advance, when they collect milk sachets from the cooperative’s three dairies in Chennai and distribute them to milk booths across the city.

Around 6,000 employees in the state work in rotation 365 days a year as do vendors who collect milk sachets from booths and distribute them at the doorsteps of their customers.

They go about their work even in the heaviest rain, wearing raincoats or arming themselves with umbrellas. “Only six to seven years ago, distribution of milk from the Ambattur dairy was delayed after rainwater entered the facility ,” a senior Aavin official said. “Even today , water enters the dairy and milk distribution to some areas is sometimes delayed but by and large we deliver milk sachets to the booths at the same time every day .”

Aavin distributes more than 11.5 lakh litres in Chennai daily . The milk sachets reach all houses before 6am or by 7am at the latest. “Around 100 trucks distribute milk to booths in the city ,” the official said. “A driver and cleaner man each truck.”

Mobile marketing unit of Aavin
       Marketing unit of Aavin

During last week’s torrential rain in Chennai most essential services were affected -electricity, buses, water supply, sewerage and so on, said V Chandrasekhar, a professor who lives in Besant Nagar. “But Aavin did not let the rain affect service,” he said. “We continued to receive our milk regularly .”

Milk Distributors Association founder S A Ponnusamy said the collective comprises around 12,000 vendors who distribute Aavin and private milk sachets to every house. “We start our work at 3am when Aavin and private milk companies unload milk sachets,” he said. “We then distribute the milk sachets to various households, restaurants, tea shops and retail stores.”