Railways bans serving free drinking water by social groups

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Phagwara, Oct 8 (UNI) The decision of the Railway Board to ban the practice of providing free drinking water on railway platforms has come as a shock to members of the 'Janata Jal Sewa Samiti', a NGO which provides free cold drinking water to train passengers at the local station.

The circular of the Railway Board vide 98/TGI/1/Policy which was sent to all divisional railway offices and after getting the instructions from the Board, Senior Divisional Railway Commercial Managers (DRCM) have sent these to all concerned railway stations.

The DRCM of Ferozepur Division, Mr Barjesh Dharmani has forwarded copies of the circular to the railway station superintendents of Phagwara, Batala and other stations, where the practice of providing 'Jal Sewa' (free water) was prevalent, specially during the summer season.

The circular clearly mentioned that water vending by charity organisations within Railway stations was not required. Accordingly the railways has been directed not to permit any such installation at railway platforms and station buildings, the circular stated.

This move would deprive thousands of rail passengers from taking a drink of cool water free of cost, particularly during the summer season. They would now have to either quench their thirst at the water taps installed on platforms or would have to dish out money from their pockets to buy a bottle of cool mineral water or a soft drink.

This practice is prevalent at a number of stations in Punjab, particularly at those where express and mail trains halt for less than five minutes.

Interestingly, senior Railway officials, including Divisional Commercial Manager Kuldip Singh and Phagwara Station Superintendent Bhushan Nandwani attended a function organised by the Janata Jal Sewa Samiti here to mark the conclusion of its 'Jal Sewa' (free water) programme which was launched in May this year to provide free cold drinking water to the passengers. The Samiti organised 'Jal Sewa' at the Railway station every year during the summer season.

Phagwara railway station yesterday.

The 'Jal Sewa' concluding function was also attended by National Safai Karamchari Commission Chairperson Santosh Chaudhry, who assured to take up this matter with Railway Minister Lalu Yadav.


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