By Arun Kumar P*
Availability of affordable drinking water of prescribed standard to passengers is a basic amenity. With a view to further improve the availability of potable drinking water for passengers; Ministry of Railways has formulated a comprehensive uniform policy for installation of Water Vending Machines (WVMs) at railway stations across the country. The objective of this policy is to lay down guidelines to make potable drinking water available through Water Vending Machines (WVMs) at stations.
Under this new policy, installation of WVMs have been started and already 346 Water Vending Machines have been provided at stations. In addition to this, eight stations viz. Bhopal, Dwarka, Gadag, Guwahati, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Madurai, Patna and Tirupati stations have been identified for provision of RO drinking water units under a different scheme on experimental basis.
Under the policy, the installation of WVMs is being handled by Railway PSU, Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). WVMs are being installed only by reputed manufacturers or their franchisee holders or authorised agents. The WVMs are having multiple dispensing tapes to facilitate maximum passengers to avail the facility simultaneously. Priority is being accorded to provide WVMs at locations where General Coaches can have easy access.
Pure water is being dispensed through these highly mechanized machines for the passengers at an affordable price. Water dispensed through the vending machine is required to conform to BIS specifications IS 10500-2012(specification for drinking water) test requirement within desirable limit. The water supplied through these machines is being frequently checked (at least once a month) through suitable device by the Health Inspector/ Medical Personnel. Water Vending Machines are using Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology or alternate superior technology. The cost & quantity of water dispensed are being displayed in a LED display so that amount is verifiable by the customer.
WVMs is providing pure drinking water in a much less price as compared to packaged drinking water. Selling price of dispensed water is as follows:
|300 ml. glass||Rs.1||Rs.2|
|Half Litre Bottle||Rs.3||Rs.5|
|1 Litre Bottle||Rs.5||Rs.8|
|2 Litre Bottle||Rs.8||Rs.12|
|5 Litre Bottle||Rs.20||Rs.25|
The companies installing Water Vending Machines are required to provide adequate number of eco-friendly disposable tumblers of approved quality and design and water bottles of PET. The companies providing machines are also to provide adequate number of dustbins of standard design with each machine.
IRCTC and/or Railways may inspect the Water Vending Machines from time to time to maintain the quality of services. In case of deficiencies found (quality/quantity of water, operator etc.) suitable penal action against the service provider will be taken by the Railways.
Presently drinking water at stations is generally supplied through water booths/water coolers after carrying out requisite treatment/disinfection as per requirement. On select stations, R.O. drinking water units have also been provided. In addition, packaged drinking water through departmental and licensee operated units is supplied.
(*The author is an Officer of PIB).
(Sourced from PIB (Press Information Bureau), Government of India.)
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