A train carrying 29 wagons, all of them filled with drinking water, left Pune on Saturday afternoon for Kayamkulam junction in Kerala, said officials of the Indian Railways. Parts of the flood-hit state are facing an acute shortage of drinking water.
The ‘water train’ is carrying 14.5 lakh litres of water, half of which came from Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh in 15 coaches, while 14 coaches were filled at the Pune Coaching Complex, with some help from the Pune Fire Brigade.
When the Railway Ministry enquired which division had the capacity to fill the wagons with water within the minimum time, Milind Deouskar, divisional railway manager (Pune), decided to take the initiative.
“We stepped forward and took the responsibility. A total of 15 wagons were filled in Ratlam and 14 others were sent to us. We filled them within eight hours, from 4 am to 12 noon on Saturday. Before the wagons from Ratlam arrived, we had kept the 14 wagons ready and filled with drinking water. Once the wagons from Ratlam arrived, we attached those and dispatched the train…,” said Deouskar.
The special train will travel via Daund, Wadi and Renugunta, before reaching Kayamkulam, where the Kerala government will distribute the water among the flood-affected people. The train will be given ‘highest priority’ and it will reach Kayamkulam within 24 hours, said officials.
“Indian Railways has always been ahead… in helping people during natural calamities and difficult times. The lives of Kerala residents have been badly hit due to the floods. To help ease the drinking water crisis there, the Railway Administration has decided to send drinking water through the wagons,” said Deouskar. He said if more drinking water was needed, his division was ready to comply with the demand. “The process of filling the water has now been streamlined. If we need to provide more water, we will be able to do it in less time,” said Deouskar.
The ‘water train’ effort was set in motion after Indian Railways received a special request from the Kerala government about sending drinking water to the state, said Central Railway officials. They said a train was chosen to transport as it has the capacity to carry a huge amount of water, as well as the ability to distribute water to various towns which fall on, or near, its lengthy route.
Other divisions of Indian Railways, such as the Madurai division, have also pitched in with similar efforts. On Friday evening, a train carrying 2.8 lakh litres of water was dispatched from Erode junction in Madurai Division to Thiruvananthapuram. The train is scheduled to reach Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday evening via Dindigul, Madurai and Tirunelveli.
In another initiative to help flood-ravaged Kerala, Indian Railways will transport relief material being sent by
various government and non-government organisations without charging anything for the service.
To help out Kerala, Maharashtra govt sanctions Rs 20 crore
Pune: Pimpri-Chinchwad corporator Babu Nair said he has received a message from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, informing him that the Maharashtra government has sanctioned Rs 20 crore as immediate assistance for the flood-affected people of Kerala.
“The CM’s response came after I SMSed him, urging him to extend help to Kerala,” said Nair. In his message, the CM said the state government was constantly in touch with Kerala government about their requirements and for providing necessary support, said Nair. “Fadnavis has appealed to everyone to come forward and stand together with the residents of Kerala, and contribute in all possible ways to help our fellow citizens,” said Nair.
The corporator said he had told the Chief Minister that almost 50 lakh people from Kerala lived in Maharashtra, which also had a number of Kerala organisations working for social, cultural and educational causes. “Many of them would like to contribute to the relief work. I have requested the state government to issue an appeal for help, collect the amount and remit it to the government of Kerala. It will definitely send out a positive message to the affected people of Kerala about Maharashtra leading the relief work,” he said. (ENS)