In the roiling temperatures inching up to 40°C, hundreds of residents wait eagerly for the ‘water express’ to roll into this town.
Ten wagons with 50,000 litres of drinking water each that will be piped on arrival, treated and distributed to this parched town are on their way.
Drought-weary people are ready with flowers and bouquets, led by the activists of the Latur Sukanu Committee on Water, which spearheaded the agitation demanding the water wagons, to welcome the train.
Along the way, in Sangli, two taluks, meanwhile, passed resolutions on Monday afternoon, demanding a share of water which was passing through their territory. Their agitation reportedly delayed the progress of the train, and Station Master B.K. Tiwari at Latur is inundated with queries from anxious residents on when the train would arrive.
“Ten wagons with 50,000 litres of drinking water each left for drought-affected Latur from Miraj. More efforts are under way,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted early in the afternoon.
By evening, the train was in Kurduwadi about 156 km or three hours away from Latur and expected to reach past midnight. Security concerns had mounted and six police officials boarded the train, reports said.
Latur, famed for its thriving agricultural economy and educational institutes, has been without a source of water for nearly 50 days and the imminent arrival of the train wagons filled with water from the Ujani Dam at Miraj, nearly 300 kilometres away, has given a glimmer of hope.
The town is now receiving water from 70 water tankers supplying 5 million litres a day to the worst-hit areas.