With Marathwada reeling under drought-like conditions, a train with 50 tankers pulled into Miraj in Sangli district late Saturday night. On Sunday, water was being filled in the tankers for the onward journey to Latur, a district which has been staring at its “worst ever” water crisis in decades.
Railway sources said the tanker wagons arrived from Kota where they had been sent for steam-washing to make them suitable for clean water. A second train is expected by April 15.
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Central Railway officials said water was being lifted from a jackwell in Miraj and pumped to a railway filtration plant. “From there, water is being being pumped into the wagons through an old pipeline system,” an official said.
Latur District Collector Pandurang Pole told The Indian Express Sunday that a new water pipeline is being laid by the state government from the railway filtration plant to Miraj railway station, three kilometres away.
Each wagon has a capacity of storing 54,000 litre of water but the railways plans to fill 50,000 litre in each. Pole said one trip of the train will help them get water which 450 road tankers supply. “Currently, over 400 tankers are making rounds of Latur city daily and over 200 water tankers are deployed in rural areas,” he said. “The water train will help us a lot. We have some water reserves that should last till the monsoon arrives,” he said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The state government along with the Railway Ministry is coordinating to ensure that water to Latur is provided immediately.” Thanking Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, he said, “The rail wagons have reached Miraj where drinking water is being filled. Almost 50 tanker wagons will proceed with water to Latur.” Prabhu, on his part, said: “The railways will do everything to help … We have sent 50 tanker wagons.”
In Latur, Dr Kalyan Barmade, secretary of Indian Medical Association, said, “The announcement of the train bringing water has come as a huge relief for Latur… people do nothing except look for water.”