IRCTC to roll out water vending machines at nine locations this month
Railway passengers will soon get water purified through reverse osmosis (RO) at Re. 1 for 300 ml and Rs. 25 for a five-litre can.
At present, 1 litre of Rail Neer pet bottle sold at stations costs Rs. 15, while other brands of packaged drinking water cost a minimum Rs. 20 a litre.
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will install 109 water vending machines (WVMs) at nine locations across the country this month, including nine in Hubballi. This will be followed by another 600 machines in November.
“By February 2016, we should be able to install at least 2,500 WVMs across the country,” said IRCTC Director (Catering Services) Robin N. Kalita. In all, the IRCTC has planned to install 4,615 machines in 1,233 railway stations. Remaining 2,600-odd machines would be installed after February, depending on the feedback, he said.
11 firms shortlisted
Mr. Kalita told The Hindu that the WVMs with capacities ranging from 50 to 200 litres an hour are being installed depending upon the size and footfall in each station. Each machine will have an operator to help passengers get water by paying through cash, token or smart card, he said. Eleven companies have been shortlisted to install the WVMs.
The Ministry, in a recent circular, said that WVMs with only RO or alternative superior technology should be used to dispense water at stations. If the passenger carries a container, he or she can get it filled for a price lesser to that offered in containers by the vendor.
The WVMs can be installed only in stand-along mode by manufacturers or their agents and the machines should have multiple taps. The water dispensers should conform to BIS specification — IS 10500:2012.