Once a source of drinking water for many residents and commuters of Diva, the water vending machines at the Diva railway station have become non-functional since the last four years.
When the machines were installed at the station, many who used to travel by the station collected drinking water and carried it home as they faced acute water cuts in this suburb of Thane.
“I used to carry a five-litre can every day and while returning home, I used to fill water from the machine and take it home. There is a lot of water shortage in my area and, at times, there is no supply for two-three days. In such cases, the machines were a boon. Now, we have no option but to buy water from shops. It is costly,” said Mahesh Patil, a 37-year-old resident of Milind Nagar in Diva.
The Diva passenger association has highlighted the need to operate the water vending machines. There are two such water vending machines installed – one at platform No. 1 and the other at platform Nos. 7-8.
“The machines were installed even before the pandemic, around four years ago. There is no sign of it functioning as they completely lie unused. The machines used to vend clean drinking water at a low cost and many used to carry water in bottles to their homes. I have got several calls where people asked me why the machines were not functional. If there is no plan to restart them, the railway should at least remove them from the platforms,” said Aadesh Bhagat, president, Diva Railway Passenger Association.
Sugandhi Kate, a 56-year-old who was travelling from Diva to Dadar, said, “During summer, I completely relied upon these machines for water. I did not carry from home as it would make my bag heavy and I have shoulder pain. So, the machine was a major help. Now I am forced to carry the water bottles from home.”
The crowd at the station is increasing day by day. Between one and one-and-a-half lakh commuters take trains from Diva station daily. Bhagat said that if the machines were not to be reinstated, removing them will make space for commuters to stand on the platform.
“At Diva, the water vending machines are maintained by a private agency allotted by the IRCTC. There is a legal battle going on between the agency and the IRCTC, thus the matter is sub-judice. After a decision from the court, further course of action will be decided,” said AK Jain, senior public relations officer, Central Railway.