Mumbai: Indian Railways decides not to restart water vending machines at stations

The railways now claim the WVMs to be a failed scheme. Henceforth none of these will be available for the public, who would be left with no option but to buy 1 litre bottled water at Rs 15.

Shashank RaoUpdated: Monday, May 02, 2022, 08:41 AM IST
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FPJ

Next time when you travel by train in Mumbai and suburban areas, either carry your own water bottle or be prepared to spend Rs 15 for bottled water at railway stations.

The Indian Railways has decided not to restart water vending machines (WVMs) at railway stations which are closed since Covid induced lockdown.

On May 1, Chairman and CEO of Railway Board VK Tripathi confirmed that the railways would not restart the WVMs. This will be a setback for the thirsty passengers, especially in this atrocious summer heat as cheap water will not be available for passengers. There are 80 WVMs on the Central Railway and over 50 on the Western Railway stations across Mumbai. Of these, 60 – 36 on CR and 24 on WR stations – aren’t in a working condition.

The railways now claim the WVMs to be a failed scheme. Henceforth none of these will be available for the public, who would be left with no option but to buy 1 litre bottled water at Rs 15. “At this point of time the provision of water vending machine will not resume. Water is available at railway stations only at our drinking water taps,” said Tripathi.

The WVMs would sell water at Re 1 and refill the empty bottles of the passengers for Rs 5, which was cheaper than the bottled water sold under Rail Neer brand at stations.

These WVMs have been shut for over two years now and disputes with contractors are also reported. In March this year, the WR and the CR authorities had claimed that they would be replacing the non-functional WVMs which now seems impossible. The railway passenger associations claim that this is an excuse to pave the way for marketing the Rail Neer water bottles. “The availability of WVMs was a good way of providing clean water to the public. The decision to shut WVMs will only benefit the canteen and food stalls. It needs to be withdrawn," said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Sangh. The IRCTC produces 14,500 cartons of packaged drinking water with each containing 12 bottles of 1 litre each.

All these are supplied and distributed to static unit owners. These are produced at Ambernath plant from where they are distributed. The WVMs were introduced by the IRCTC but now have ‘Out of Order’ notices pasted on them.

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