Tempers reached a boiling point on Monday morning when Western Railway (WR) employees stormed the offices of the concerned authorities in protest of the contaminated drinking water supplied to them for the last 10 days. However, when the dust finally settled, employees were informed that the BMC had failed to identify the exact fault in the water pipeline, which led to deterioration in the quality of water.
Yesterday, nearly 2,000 WR employees began gathering at the Churchgate office at 11 am, the same building where suburban train services terminate. Most of the crowd gathered at eight-storey building, then went to meet the Principal Chief Engineer (PCE) Anirudh Jain who works at the old heritage building right in front of the station building.
On November 5, MiD DAY had reported about the poor quality of drinking water in the WR’s Churchgate office, owing to which several employees allegedly fell sick (‘WR staffers raise a stink over foul-smelling water’). In their official letter to employees, WR authorities blamed the BMC. “Efforts made with the municipality to improve the water quality have not succeeded as they have not been able to locate the fault,’ read one of the paragraphs of the letter signed by PCE Jain.
Sources said that the first wave of protests started from the seventh floor where the accounts department is situated. As employees walked down shouting slogans, the staff from the sixth and fifth floors, where the signal, telecommunication and engineering is situated, joined the protest. “We switched off the lights and fans in protest and all the departments were empty. It seems like the officials are hand-in-glove with the water tanker sellers and BMC,” said a WR employee in seething anger.
After meeting the WR officials including the PCE, a few employees claimed that the authorities simply blamed the water condition throughout the city.
Soon after they began shouting and asked the officials to drink the contaminated water. They also questioned the cleaning of water tanks where supposedly a dead cat and mice were found.
However, after the heated arguments ended, the WR officials spoke to the BMC to rectify the issue. “The fault has been identified and the BMC has rectified it. Hopefully, we will get good quality drinking water from Tuesday,” said A Jain, PCE to MiD DAY.
Apparently, sewage water had entered the water pipeline, which led to contamination of the water supply.
During this time, WR staff have had no option but to carry five-litre barrels and bottles of mineral water to work. “There was a problem with the water supplied by municipality which has now been rectified,” said S Chandrayan, chief PRO, Western Railway.