New Delhi: The Ministry of Railways on Friday released a press release regarding the ongoing water transportation exercise in drought-hit Maharashtra's Latur district and announced that the board will immediately withdraw a bill of Rs 4 crore sent to the state government for the effort.
The release has been posted on the micro-blogging website Twitter from the official handle of MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) today. As per the release, the Railways have also disclosed that the water bill was sent to the district collector towards transport cost on the state government's request.
Read the full text of the press release here:
Clarification By The Ministry Of Railways Regarding The Ongoing Water Transportation Exercise In Latur, Maharashtra
Under the direction of the Hon’ble Prime Minister to help the State of Maharashtra in facing the challenge of its worst ever drought conditions, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu took initiative and ordered the Railway Administration to immediately make necessary arrangements for transportation of water in the drought affected areas of Maharashtra. Towards this end, Railway Board immediately arranged 100 tank wagons through its Kota Workshop and dispatched them to Maharashtra. Mumbai based Central Railway Zone geared up its machinery and directed its two Divisions namely Solapur and Pune to make arrangements for water transportation.
For the first ten days when the local state administration at Miraj and Latur were to lay pipelines and to create suitable infrastructure etc., Pune Division of Central Railways on its own, started transporting water through a 10 tank wagon goods train using its limited resources and man power. Later, after the laying down of pipelines etc. by the local administration, efforts were strengthened and goods train consisting of 50 wagons was pressed into service. Till now more than 6 crore litre water has been transported by the Railways from Miraj to Latur. Railway named these trains as “Jaldoot” to emphasize importance of this crucial endeavour. Railway Administration in Solapur and Pune Divisions is working day and night to accomplish this mega task of transporting water from Miraj to Latur.
In the hour of crisis, Railway Administration rose to the occasion to meet the water needs in the drought affected areas of Maharashtra and together with the local State Administration carried out this ongoing exercise in the most effective manner. The entire exercise has been done involving huge logistic arrangements and mobilization of resources.
Recently the Latur District Administration requested Central Railway Administration to indicate the cost of water transportation by railways. In response to this request, Central Railway shared the information on cost of operation in transporting the water. The settlement of expenditure is not relevant at this point of time as the most important matter is to continue uninterruptedly with the transportation of water to the people in their hour of need.
Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu who is personally monitoring the entire operation has directed that the Indian Railways will continue to run the trains till the time there is a need of water and the settlement of the operational expenses will never be a constraint in this regard. The Minister has further ordered that the estimate of expenditure which was sent to the Latur Administration, on their request, will be withdrawn immediately. The issue of settlement of dues is being considered separately by the Railway Ministry.
Indian Railways has always been committed to meet the social obligations and will continue to be in the forefront in offering assistance to the people of the country as and when needed.
Earlier, Central Railway's general manager SK Sood had said, "We have sent the bill to the Latur district collector as per the administration's request."
The first water train, christened 'Jaldoot', left Miraj in western Maharashtra on April 11 and reached Latur on April 12, covering the distance of around 342 kilometres.
After nine trips by a 10-wagon water train, a 50-wagon water train carrying 25 lakh litre water was later pressed into service. It was specially commissioned from Kota in Rajasthan to transport water to Latur. It was in January 2013 that Maharashtra first considered water trains for parched regions of drought-hit Marathwada. Discussions were then held with the Railways to arrange wagons to transport 5 lakh litres of water daily.
While Latur city has a population of over four lakh, the district rural areas, with 943 villages, have a population of 18 lakh. The water levels in the 131 smaller dams in the district have depleted fast.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis yesterday thanked everyone for sending the 'water' help to the state. On Twitter he wrote: "6 crore litre water sent for Laturkars.I thank every person toiling hard day in day out in such tough times!"
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) May 12, 2016