A day after the Uttar Pradesh government told the Centre the state did not need the 10-wagon water train that it had sent for distribution in parched Bundelkhand region, the Railways Ministry got all the wagons — stationed at Jhansi railway station — filled with potable water on Friday.
This comes after Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had claimed that his state has enough resources to tackle the crisis, which was “not as serious” as in Maharashtra’s Latur. Instead, he had requested the Centre to provide the state 10,000 empty road tankers on Friday for distributing water in Bundelkhand. District magistrates of Mahoba and Jhansi had also given in writing to the Railways Ministry that they do not need water wagons.
Railways officials had earlier claimed that the National Capital Region, including Jhansi station, was not equipped to fill rail wagons with water. However, since Friday morning, the ministry staff at Jhansi were seen filling the wagons with potable water from pipelines that cater to passenger coaches.
Sources said till Thursday evening, there was no such plan as there was no demand for the water train from any part of Bundelkhand. When contacted, North Central Railway (NCR) Chief PRO Bijay Kumar admitted there was no demand for the water train so far. “The wagons have been filled with water to keep the train ready to meet the demand from any place. Till any such demand arises, the wagons will remain stationed in Jhansi.”
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Railways had sent the empty wagons to Jhansi to facilitate supply of water in the affected areas of Bundelkhand. The next day, Akhilesh had written to Union Minister for Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti, demanding that the state be instead sent 10,000 empty road tankers.
In reply, Bharti had chided Akhilesh for creating a “mockery of the situation.” She had claimed that the Centre had sent the train after MPs from Bundelkhand region had taken up the water crisis issue with the NITI Aayog.
On Friday, while addressing a gathering in Firozabad, Akhilesh targeted the Centre, saying: “UP was sent the water train without having asked for it… and that too empty. While the SP government is busy ensuring water to the affected areas, BJP is merely doing politics… Be cautious of BJP. I had said it during elections as well that no one is more chaalu than BJP… it is being proven today. The train was sent to Jhansi… it was said that water tankers are coming, but the tankers turned out to be empty.”
Further targeting the Modi government, Akhilesh said: “Two years have gone by and you can make the comparison (between the SP and Modi governments). We gave away e-rickshaws free of cost… we also gave insurance and registration for the same. But one can only get an e-rickshaw from them (Centre) on loan.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines