The Indian Railways today told the Delhi High Court that it has decided to run a pilot project at the New Delhi Railway Station here to provide water according to the parameters specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The submission was made before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar which asked the Railways to file a detailed action plan and report regarding the pilot project and listed the matter for further hearing on May 17. The Railways also told the bench that it was taking all necessary steps to achieve the targets set under the BIS:10500-2012 for drinking water quality and special funds have been permitted for procurement of multi-parameter water quality field test kits and bacteriological test vials.
It also placed before the court the data collected from all its stations regarding the water quality at each location and its source. The court was hearing a PIL by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation, which has sought “an independent and preferably court-monitored probe into the neglect of the quality of the drinking water supply (by Railways) and the manipulations in the award of contracts for supply of chlorination plants for past several years”. Advocates Prashant Bhushan and Govind Jee, appearing for the NGO, told the bench that the Railways was neither adhering to the standards laid down for drinking water by BIS nor following the Indian Railway Medical Manual.
The lawyer said water being provided at stations and on trains was not even being tested for the presence of E.coli bacteria. The NGO, in its plea, has contended that while the Indian Railways, which has an independent water supply system all over the country, is able to keep trains running by meeting the requirement of water for washing and cleaning of trains, tracks and platforms, it is “failing to supply safe and wholesome drinking water to millions of railway passengers and its staff who live in the railway colonies”.