Drinking Water on Indian Railways

Last week I had to visit IIT KGP and Calcutta. I managed to get a ticket at the last minute and quickly settled on Shalimar express. Most of my companions were Bengali revellers returning after touring god’s own country.
Before reaching Varkala a vendor with water bottles came. I bought a one litter bottle. Then I noticed that most of my Malayalee co-passengers were buying water bottles where as the Bengalis were travelling with cans filled with water. The train reached Chennai next morning and most of the Mallu crowd was gone. Lot of people from Andhra and Orrisa came in. Almost all had water bottles filled at home.
Many of them were refilling the bottles at stations. The remaining Mallus on the train were buying bottles. When the train reached Vijayawada there was a small queue in front of a counter which displayed ” Bring in your bottle and fill at Rs 1 “. People were seen confidently using public taps in North India. However, in Kerala you can see passengers buying packaged mineral water and throwing away bottles. Is the quality of our water so low? Or is it just another Mallu prevention ?
Anyway on the way back home, I filled two bottles form IIT guest house and carried with me. It lasted till Vijayawada. I refilled them at ” Bring in your bottle and fill at Rs 1 ” and used it till Chennai Egmore. I had plenty of time at Egmore waiting for my connection train to Trivandrum. I looked around for a tap and found out one. But I turned skeptical at the last moment and bought a bottle.
I have a few questions now. Why the railway is not providing quality drinking water through public taps on the platform? If you look out of a compartment you can see thousands of empty water bottles on both sides of the track. Why we are not bothered about the environmental problems it creates ? How good is the packaged water that we get on the railway?
Look at any public function or TV discussion , you can see mineral water bottles on the dais, even though no one drinks. It is a fashion for even small meetings in our college to place few bottles of packaged water in front of the guests. When did this trend begin ?
Packaged drinking water is available in almost all shops in Kerala. It seems the next generation will be afraid of drinking well water.


  1. Hi,
    Good quality water is provided at all station taps which are indicated as Drinking water.At one time near to 100% of the “packaged bottled water ” sold in Howrah station and other stations in Eastern and South eastern railways was recycled /refilled used mineral water bottles by the beggars at the stations.Many reports were there in the local Calcuttta Papers years back with pics of the bottles being collected and refilled at the ends of the platforms.No wonder the locals always preferred the water from home.


    Sunil VU2MTM

  2. Leave aside railway water, water at all conferences, including those IITs where people stay on campus which has all facilities, is bottled. Can’t we use tap water which has water purifiers at most taps ? It’s a style statement and people feel bad on using non-bottled water.

    And packaged water bottles is one of the largest contaminators in the world.


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