CHENNAI: Minutes before Pallavan Express was to depart from Chennai Egmore on Thursday, V Natarajan took hurried steps to the water booth. He half filled the bottle and tasted it. Unsatisfied with the taste, Natarajan emptied the bottle. He then went to a nearby tap. But it was no better and the water was slightly coloured.
Drinking water at the booths provided at Egmore station is a significant issue. This has also been highlighted in the Swachh Rail (station cleanliness) survey report, released by the Union Ministry of Railways on Wednesday.
The report has ranked Egmore, the second busiest station in the city, at 288 out of the total 407 stations in the country. Last year, Egmore fared better in the survey having been ranked 141.
As Natarajan, who was headed to Tiruchy, said, “There is no other choice for us rather than buying water from vendors.” This was evident from the huge crowd surrounding the Zero B unit, which provides purified water at low cost.
Totally, there are nine drinking water booths at the station, with three more to be added soon. But there is a big question mark over the quality of water. Station officials acknowledge that water supplied for drinking purpose is untreated.
“Every day, Metrowater supplies more than seven lakh litres, much of which go to watering coaches. The same water is also provided to the booths,” an official said. He added that several complaints have been received and Chennai divisional railway officials have been made aware of the problem.
Another issue that has contributed to poor cleanliness of the station is the condition of toilets. Only 42.86 per cent of those surveyed found the toilets to be clean. While there is one public toilet between platforms 5 and 6, there are toilets in waiting halls and retiring rooms. “As compared to the earlier method of employing workers to clean all toilets, we have assigned staff for each toilet. Furthermore, a new restroom is coming up between platforms 10 and 11,” the official told Express.