WR staffers raise a stink over foul-smelling water

As the city reels under the rise in dengue cases, thousands of employees of Western Railway (WR) working at the Churchgate office now have their own water woes. For nearly 10 days, the employees have complained about the poor quality of drinking water supply and now, staff are threatening to go on a dharna on Tuesday, if the quality of water isn’t improved by then.

Unclean drinking water
Hard to stomach: WR employees are furious over the unclean drinking water supply at their Churchgate office. Representation pic

While taps run afoul, patience is running dry for employees and officers working inside the eight-storeyed WR main building and the stone-walled heritage building situated opposite to it. Sources claim that a dead cat and several mice were found inside the water tank built on top of the Churchgate office building which were later removed.

The staff claim that they inspected the water tank after many people complained of a foul smell and change of taste in the water. “The problem of providing clean drinking water exists at many railway stations where the water tanks are not cleaned periodically,” said Kailash Verma, member, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh. Sources say that water at railway stations between Churchgate and Mumbai Central is unclean.

“We have stopped drinking water from the taps here. The water has a bad odour and we fear we might catch some disease after drinking it,” said a staff member working for WR at Churchgate. The Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS) has apparently received complaints of over 10 employees falling sick after drinking the unclean water.

The WR buildings mainly get water from water tankers and partly from the municipal corporation. Everyday 30 water tankers of 10,000 litres each fill the tanks. Officials claim that there are chances of sewage water getting mixed with the water pumped into the tanks.

“We will wait until Tuesday for the authorities to take some action for the welfare of the employees. After that, we will sit on a dharna below the WR building at Churchgate,” said Ajay Singh, general secretary, WRMS.

Meanwhile, officials said that they are coordinating with the BMC and have also sent water samples to labs for testing. “We are installing water purifiers and will provide mineral water to the staff,” said Sandip Silas, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), WR.

“The situation is under control, and as of now, residential and office buildings aren’t getting dirty water. We will tackle the problem soon,” said Ramesh Bambale, chief engineer, water supply. 

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