Almost a month after the first water train delivered relief to the parched Latur city, it is now set to extend its services to Udgir, situated 70 kilometres from Latur.
The Maharashtra government has taken up a proposal to supply water to Udgir through railway wagons. The town, which has a population of just over 1 lakh, lacks an ‘assured’ drinking water supply source. Divisional Commissioner Umakant Dangat confirmed that the “feasibility of supplying water to Udgir through rail wagons was being examined.”
The train has so far journeyed 26 times to Latur, carrying water from a source 342 kilometres away. But now, the government has zeroed in on a source closer by, which can increase the train’s trips to Latur.
“It is possible to lift 2.5 million litres daily from the Lower Dudhna dam in Jalna’s Partur,” said Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse.
The train had so far been taking water from Miraj.
“Partur is closer to Latur than Miraj. It is just around 217 kilometres away. At present, the train from Miraj makes two trips to Latur daily. We feel this can be increased to three,” a senior government official said.
The dam has around 41 per cent water stock.
The government has already held deliberations with railway officials over both the proposals.
Preparations are underway to lift water from Partur, Khadse said. The train will leave from Partur station and reach Latur via Parbhani and Ghatnandur.
Sources said discussions are also being held to explore the option of using rail wagons as a permanent emergency measure for water supply in case of shortage in Latur and some other regions.
The government had to spend around Rs 8 crore for laying the infrastructure to tap the water transported through rail wagons.
As a special case, the railway ministry has waived the rentals for the wagons.