The Indian Railways have decided to take up the issue of insufficient water supply to commuters and monopoly of supplying bottled water at stations here in Mumbai. On June 9, the Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw promised to look into this issue. The railways claim that as a start towards this, the Central Railway has called tenders for setting up water vending machines.
On Thursday and Friday, Vaishnaw visited Mumbai and inspected important stations of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Churchgate stations. On June 9, Vaishnaw, was apprised about the issues pertaining to availability of water at railway stations here in Mumbai.
This was particularly about the surge in demand for bottled water especially during summer and availability of bottled water Rail Neer at railway stations becomes an issue. The railway authorities agreed that passenger associations have been complaining about monopolistic approach as far as availability of bottled water is concerned.
The minister told reporters that he will certainly look at the reasons why only one brand of bottled water is available at railway stations here in Mumbai. Coincidentally, few weeks ago, the Central Railway had decided to scout for other brands of bottled water at railway stations and make it available for commuters.
Senior railway officials said that as a measure to counter this, they are also appointing contractors for setting up water vending machines at 34 railway stations that will ensure that people get 1 litre water for Rs 5 instead of spending Rs 15 on bottled water.
Sources in the railways said that they are installing these WVMs at Reay Road, Cotton Green, Sewri, Wadala, Parel, Sion, Mankhurd, Thane, Mulund, Bhandup, Mumbra, Neral, Matheran, Ulhasnagar, Ambernath, Vasind, Atgaon etc among other stations.
The size of the WVMs will be 30 sq.feet and tender has been called for 5 years during which time the private contractor will be appointed. WVMs sell water at Rs 2 for 300ml glass and Rs 3 with own container. For a 1 litre bottle, WVM will provide water at Rs 5 and Rs 8 will taken in a container for refilling.