Mumbai/Latur: Hours after a 'water train' reached the parched Latur district in Maharashtra, another train was being filled for more supply, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday.
"The work to fill the second train's tankers with drinking water for supply to Latur got underway today (Tuesday) afternoon at Miraj in Sangli district. Other related work to handle water supply in Latur is also being taken up on a war-footing," Fadnavis said in a statement.
The work includes laying of water pipelines over several kilometres on priority basis from Latur railway yard to the water filtration plant near the Krishna river and back, taken up at a cost of Rs.1.85 crore by the district authorities.
The government will also install one 50 horsepower and two 35 horsepower water pumps to transfer the water ferried through trains to the Haiderkhan well of the railways.
It will also ensure that supply of 2.50 million litres of water daily to the parched villages is not disrupted.
Shortly after the special train was received to a 'joyous welcome' around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, and the precious cargo was transported by the Indian Railways to Maharashtra, it was siphoned off into an empty well near the Latur railway station, Fadnavis said.
The approximately 500,000 litres of water in 10 tankers was transferred to 20 tankers of 25,000 litres capacity each and sent to the filtration plant for treatment to make it potable.
Thereafter, it will be filled into 6,000-litre tankers and supplied to the needy areas of Latur and elsewhere in the district.
According to official estimates, some of the worst-hit villages in Latur require over two crore litres of water since the monsoon is still two months away.
The water train initiative was taken by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu a few days ago as many parts of his home state reeled under severe water crises, especially villages in Latur district, which has a population of around 2.45 crore.
On Prabhu's directives, 50 tankers, similar to ones used to transport oil and milk, were sent to railways' Kota workshop in Rajasthan for thorough cleaning and sent to Sangli for filling with water.
The railways is planning a few more similar train trips to help quench the thirst of Latur villagers, though the schedule in this regard has not yet been finalised.
Currently, around 15,000 Maharashtra villages, a majority of them in Latur, Beed and Osmanabad districts, are in the grip of acute water shortage.
Villagers in some areas trek more than two km daily to fetch potable water and keep water stock under lock and key.
Schools in affected areas have been shut, with marriages and other social events cancelled or postponed. Agricultural activities too have come to a standstill.
Police have imposed prohibitory orders till May 3 in many areas to prevent violence over water distribution. Besides, armed guards have been posted at public water tanks and reservoirs.