COIMBATORE: As part of the Railway Ministry’s policy, water vending machines (WVMs) will soon be placed at all railway stations to provide quality drinking water at reasonable rates for passengers.
In the Salem Division, 60 WVMs will be placed in 17 stations. Coimbatore Junction will have 12 machines, Erode 10, Salem 8, Tirupur 4, Mettupalayam 4 and Karur 3. While Ooty will have only one machine, the others, including Podanur, will have two each. The Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been entrusted with the installation of WVMs and tenders have already been invited for the project.
“Water supplied through the machines will meet standards of purity prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards. It will be much cheaper than packaged drinking water. One litre will cost Rs 5, half a litre Rs 3 and a glass of water Rs 1. An extra Rs 3 will be charged for a bottle and Rs 2 for a glass,” said Shubhranshu, Divisional Railway Manager, Salem.
There will be frequent checks by health and Railway officials, to ensure the quality and functioning. Reverse osmosis or technology superior to it will be used. To ensure transparency, the cost and quality will be displayed on the machine. Asked about reports of stopping the free drinking water being provided at stations, officials said the matter had not been considered so far.
Passengers welcome the move. “This will definitely bring a change and force packaged drinking water companies to reduce prices and ensure quality. Now a bottle of packaged water costs Rs 20 and the selling water at less than half of the rate at railway stations will benefit the public,” said Devanarayanan M, a software engineer and a passenger.