The extensive Delhi zone of the Indian Railways, it seems, is still dependent on tubewells for its whooping water demands running into lakhs of litres and has failed to set up Rain Water Harvesting Systems (RWHS) at its stations and colonies.
In an RTI reply, the Railways has stated that 14,45,500 litres of water was consumed daily in its eight colonies in Delhi for domestic purposes and also for cleaning trains. All this water was drawn from tubewells .
The reply was filed to an RTI query by environment activist Vikrant Tongad, who has been pursuing the issue of depleting ground water and the failure of various government bodies in setting up RWHS.
Mr. Tongad had last year sought information on whether there were any RWHS at any of the Delhi railway stations and the source of water used there.
The Railways in its delayed reply has said the 14.45 lakh litres of water comes from 15 tubewells – one in Hazrat Nizammudin Railway Colony, four in Lajpat Nagar Railway Colony, one in Gulabi Bagh, three in Sewa Nagar, one in Lodhi Colony and five in Sarojini Nagar Colony.
Only Gulabi Bagh Railway Colony has a RWHS.
In another reply, the Railways said four RWHS were present in four railway colonies, including Moti Bagh, Panchkuian Road and Tughlakabad, but there was no data on the quantity of rain water collected.
In these colonies, 37 tubewells were also used to meet a daily water requirement of 31.79 lakh litres.
The reply also shows that the Railways does not have any policy on rain water harvesting.
Mr. Tongad said that “despite such huge stations, especially the New Delhi Railway station which is also the headquarters of the northernmost range of the Indian Railways, no space was being used for rain water harvesting.”
He said there was a rule in Delhi that if any agency was discharging huge quantities of used water daily, it has to recycle the same but the Railways was not doing so.
He also said, “rain water can be collected in storage tanks at stations but it should not be sent directly through the recharge pipes into the ground as our stations were dirty and any rain water sent directly into the ground would pollute the groundwater”.
Mr. Tongad said he has also filed a complaint before the Central Information Commission against the Railways for furnishing a delayed and unsatisfactory reply to his RTI application.