Mumbai: Latur, a town that is battling the worst drought ever, woke up to the sound of the hooter, signalling the answering of their prayers – the arrival of the water train.
Located in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, Latur and its nearby areas – though perpetually dry – never had it so bad as this year with municipal water supply getting reduced to just once in 15 days.
Hundreds of trucks were ferrying water to quench the thirst of the city's residents but the demand far exceeded the supply.
That's when the Maharashtraa government, in collaboration with the Indian Railways, decided to press into service water trains – the first of which rolled into Latur on Tuesday morning with five lakh litres of water
Symbolic of how badly Latur needed the water train, the loco pilots of the train were felicitated by locals on arrival.
The 'water train' comprises of 10 tankers carrying 50,0000 litres water each. The tankers were filled up at Miraj in Sangli district of western Mahasrashtra, 300 kms away.
The Latur administration has drawn up elaborate plans for proper storage and distribution of the precious cargo. A huge well has been acquired for the purpose and a pipeline is being laid from the railway station to the well for the transport of water.
With the city needing 20 mullion litres of water each day, the railways and the state government have big task at hand.
Another water train will be pressed into service by April 15, railway official said.