The Delhi high court told the Indian Railways on Monday that “Stop giving contaminated water to passengers as their health is important.”
“We want you to give people at least drinkable water,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said, adding that people would not be reading the railway’s affidavits filed in the court on the steps they propose to take to provide clean water.
The bench told the officials and the counsel for the railways that they should start the work from any one station as a pilot project.
“People of this country are entitled under the law to get clean water,” the bench said and asked the authorities to file their action plan positively by April 12.
The bench said the issue assumes importance and deserved greatest attention and it wanted the railways to examine and take a decision on its own without the court getting into it.
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 and the manipulations in the award of contracts for supply of chlorination plants for past several years“.
Advocate Govind Jee, appearing for the NGO, said the railways was neither adhering to the standards laid down for drinking water by the Bureau of Indian Standards nor following the Indian Railway Medical Manual.
The lawyer said water being provided on stations and trains was not even being tested for presence of Ecoli bacteria.
It alleged that Indian Railways has “continued to neglect the quality of water supply for so many years” as records which have come to light recently show that water quality has been very unsatisfactory for the past several years.
The plea also claimed that “the water treatment infrastructure for disinfection of water by chlorination has almost completely collapsed and level of contamination in the entire supply network from the source to the top is alarming.”