Pune: Most of the lakhs of railway passengers at Pune junction can afford to buy packaged drinking water or Rail Neer from different food stalls but there are others who can’t afford to pay Rs 15 or more. To redress this, Pune Railway Division has installed 14 WVMs at major stations in the division.
The machines installed across railway stations as an initiative by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in April 2017 are meant to ensure that purified drinking water is available across railway stations at cheap rates.
As per the rate card, one litre water is available at Rs 5 (without container), while a glass of half a litre water will cost Rs 3, two litres for Rs 8 and 5 litres for Rs 20. At most kiosks, through the day, there is a person who helps people understand how to operate the machine. At night, however, one has to operate the machine by oneself.
“To provide pure, clean and chilled drinking water to railway passengers at an affordable cost, 14 WVMs have been installed at major stations across the Pune Division. Presently, 9 WVMs are functional at Pune station (three on platform 1, two machines each on platform number 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, three machines at Miraj station and one each at Kolhapur and Sangli). The WVMs are operated round-the-clock either manually or via automatic mode,” said Manoj Jhawar, Spokesperson of Pune Railway Division.
As per a vendor adjacent to the water vending machine, during peak hours, there is a queue of commuters to purchase water from these machines. “Since the machines were installed, especially when the temperatures were high, there was a huge rush during peak hours. There are queues if from around 5 pm to 8.30 pm,” the vendor said.
“Railway administration and IRCTC has engaged in ‘Water Health India’ for providing purified drinking water through WVMs. Till date, 16 lakh litres of pure water has been used by travelling passengers from these machines and Railways has earned around Rs 80 lakh approximately,” said a Senior Commercial Officer.
Virendra Paswan, one of the 8 members of a group, all working at a construction site in Pune and going back to his hometown Siwan, Bihar said, “Earlier, we used to fill water from drinking water taps, which were installed on all platforms. Since the installation of these machines, I use the service to fill my water bottles. I pay only Rs 15 for three litres.” The other friends of his group also use water vending machines.
According to the officials, an eight-stage RO-UV purification technology is used to provide safe and affordable drinking water to passengers through these WVMs. The WVMs are having multiple dispensing taps to facilitate maximum passengers to avail the facility simultaneously. The dispensing capacity of the WVMs is 100 litres per hour.