Railways gear up to take on water crisis
Worried about water shortage due to deficient rainfall, the Railway Board has asked all zonal railways to submit their contingency plans.
The Railway Board’s Land and Amenities Directorate, which deals with the supply of water to stations, trains and railway colonies, has written a letter to all zonal headquarters, asking them to furnish details of their plans to ensure smooth supply of water in their respective areas.
“We don’t organise supply of water directly from New Delhi. It is done by the zonal offices. But, as we are getting reports about delayed monsoon, we are worried about supply of water in trains and other places. So, we have asked our zonal offices to let us know about their contingency plans,” said a directorate official.
There are 8,241 railway stations in the country as of March 2008. But, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and railway brass are worried, because out of these, 962 stations belong to Northern Railway and fall in areas where delayed monsoon has already translated into water crisis.
According to the railways’ estimate, a 22-coach long-distance passenger train requires 40,000 litres of water during its average journey time of 18 hours. New Delhi station alone requires more than 6 million litres of water for daily consumption.
Apart from the trains, the railways also maintain more than 65,000 staff quarters all over India. The supply there is also managed by the directorate.
Rail Bhawan, the ministry’s headquarters, has got reports about water scarcity in key North Indian stations like Varanasi Cantonment and Allahabad. In New Delhi, the railways have three rain-fed wells. But it depends on the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) for almost 60 per cent of its water needs in stations and other establishments. In Varanasi, the total demand is 300,000 litres for the Cantonment station, 200,000 litres for railway colonies and 50,000 litre for other attached stations.