Rail Brings Relief To The Thirsty

Transports water through its goods trains to help drought-affected Marathwada region of Maharashtra

In wake of the severe water crisis in the drought-affected areas of Marathwada region in Maharashtra especially in the Latur district, Indian Railways rose to the occasion and undertook one of the massive operations of transporting water through its goods trains. Minister of Railways, Sh. Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, directed Railway Administration to make necessary arrangements in this regard. Accordingly, Central Railway Zone (headquarters Mumbai) and its Divisional Office at Pune geared up their respective machineries to undertakethis transportation drive. The General Manager of Central Railway Zone and Divisional Railway Manager of Pune Division personally monitored and supervised the entire operation.

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The Railways identified 100 BTPN (oil tankerlike) wagons for this purpose and directed its Kota workshop in West-Central Railway to prepare them for transporting potable water on an urgent basis. The carrying capacity of one such wagon is 54,000 litre of water per wagon (normally it is filled upto around 50,000 litre per wagon). These wagons are generally used for transporting vegetable oil which develops thick layers of sludge deposition on inside and outside the wagons. To clean them and prepare them for transporting potable water is itself is a huge, meticulous and technical exercise. Chief Works Manager, Kota Workshop took up the challenge to prepare these wagons in record time. The Kota workshop, working day and night, undertook steam cleaning, sludge removal, de-scaling, de-greasing and then final cleaning of these wagons to make them fit for transportation of drinking water.

The first rake consisting of 50 wagons was turned out from Kota Workshop on April 8 at 1am and sent to Miraj in Sangli District of Maharashtra (Pune division of Central Railway). The second goods train to be dispatched also consisted of 50 wagons.

Once the trains reached Miraj, then started the massive exercise of transporting water to Latur, which is suffering from inadequate rain for the fourth consecutive year, resulting is devastation of crops, farmers committing suicide and drinking water running out.

Miraj of Pune division was chosen as the starting point of transporting water because Krishna river has plenty of water and flows nearby Miraj station (3.5 km). However, to start transporting water from Miraj, the local administration needed to lay some infrastructure near the station. As this was to take some time, Pune Division (Central Railway) swung into action on war footing to start transporting water from its own resources using its own limited infrastructure to provide quick immediate relief to the public in the Latur district.

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