Mumbai: After nine trips by a 10-wagon water train, a 50-wagon water train carrying 25 lakh litre water reached parched Latur on Wednesday.
The train, christened 'Jaldoot', left Miraj in western Maharashtra at around 11 pm last night, for drought-hit Latur city, a distance of around 342 kilometres. So far, 70 lakh litre water has been delivered by train to Latur, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.
The train had previously made nine trips, each time carrying 5 lakh litres of water, to the parched city.
The 50-wagon train received a grand welcome at the Latur Railway Station on its arrival. Latur city mayor Akhtar Mistry, welcomed the 'Jaldoot Express', which was specially commissioned from Kota in Rajasthan to transport water to the 5 lakh people of Latur.
The train is a big relief for Latur citizens who have been struggling to get drinking water, the mayor said.
The 'Jaldoot' first made its trial run on 11 April. The train initially faced several clearance issues due to the single line section from Miraj to Latur. As a result, the first train had reached Latur in 17 hours.
However, the railways then pulled all stops to ensure that the train was given all the clearances during the journey. Subsequently, the train took just 8-9 hours to reach Latur. Once it arrived in six and a half hours.
The Solapur division of Central Railway ensured that 'Jaldoot' Express navigated the tracks without any hitch, and the Pune division of the Central Railway took care of the loading of water at the Miraj Railway station.
At Miraj, the water is first pumped through a 4 km closed pipeline from the railway jackwell located on the banks of Krishna river to the water treatment plant at Miraj railway station.
From the plant, it goes to Haider Khan well, which is at a distance of 2.5 km and from the well to yard, the water travels through a closed pipeline into the waiting wagons.
Latur District Collector Pandurang Pole said they were re-filtering the water before supplying to the citizens through tankers.
Krishnat Patil, operational manager, Pune division, said they plan to run the train every day till the onset of monsoon.
"Every day, civic body has pressed into service 450 trips by tankers. Each 'Jaldoot' trip will take care of the daily drinking water needs of the city," Pole said.
Latur Municipal Commissioner Sudhakar Telang said the civic body supplied drinking water to a particular area only after 8-10 days, but that is set to change once the water is transported regularly to Latur.
"After getting 25 lakh litre water, the tanker trips will go up and we will be in a position to provide water after at least every four days," he said.
Latur city used to get water directly from Manjara dam through a closed pipeline. Water was provided once every 8-10 days since the last monsoon. However, after the Manjara dam ran dry, civic body officials then started lifting water from three other smaller dams whose water-levels are also fast depleting.
At the Latur railway station, the water is decanted from the wagons into an 850 metre long RCC pipeline. It is then released into the a nearby well and from the well, it is lifted through a high density plastic pipeline and loaded into waiting tankers. From there it is sent to water filtration plant.
BJP activist Makrand Deshpande, a member of the Railway Committee, from Sangli, said, "When I first mooted the idea to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, at our party meeting in Nashik, the CM asked me to remind him later. When I reminded him, the CM immediately sent Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse to Sangli to announce the project on 5 April," he said.
Fadnavis spoke to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who immediately gave green signal to the plan, Deshpande said.