When the train’s whistle became the sound of music

The express transported water to the parched town of Latur

Updated - November 17, 2021 01:56 am IST

Published - April 13, 2016 03:38 am IST - Latur

Water express is decanted at Latur railway station on Tuesday. Latur distrit is reeling under sever drought. Photo: Vivek Bendre

Water express is decanted at Latur railway station on Tuesday. Latur distrit is reeling under sever drought. Photo: Vivek Bendre

A little after 4.30 a.m., the silence that usually descends on this quiet railway station after midnight was broken by the chugging of an incoming train. The sound of the locomotive was then drowned by the screeching of brakes, as the 50-wagon rake came to a stop. The silence did not return after that. The pre-dawn calm was overwhelmed by the chanting of mantras and political slogans.

The ‘water express’ had come in, after a 300-km journey from Miraj, carrying not just 5,40,000 litres of water, but also the much-needed hope for the parched city.

Latur’s station master had barely finished noting down the official arrival time — 4.40 a.m. — before the air was filled with mantras chanted by local pandits. Some had come along with politicians, others had made their way to the station of their own accord. Raj Joshi, who had come along with the local unit of the BJP, said: “This year, the panchang [astrological diary] shows good rainfall for the entire country, and it is not going to be any different for Latur.”

“The credit for [the train] goes to our Chief Minister,” said BJP city unit chief Shilesh Lahote. Within three hours, the train had decanted its cargo into a private well near the tracks, from where it was ferried to a local filtration plant.

The news of the train’s arrival spread fast. Local residents quickly thronged both sides of the track; some had travelled many kilometres. By late morning, the crowd had swelled, with many arriving to show their children the historic occasion.

The sense of relief was palpable, but there was also some sadness. As a local water expert said, this is possibly only the second town in the country that had water transported in by train, after Bhuj in 2001.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.