Jaldoot – Latur’s blessing in disguise

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By Husein K Chunawala

Latur, April 16 – The fifth Jaldoot, train carrying water, left for Miraj for Latur, about 343 km, on Saturday. The Indian Railways (IR) has joined the battle against water shortage in Maharashtra, especially the Marathwada region which is facing severe drought.

Latur is a district located in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. The total population of the district is about 25 lakhs while Latur city has nearly 5 lakh populations. People are living with water shortages for 15 years.

Last year the city received tap water twice or thrice a week.  In the rural areas people have to walk several kilometres to get water from wells.

The water crisis in Latur is worsening day by day.

Due to drought many people have come forward to take the action, as government machinery is unable to fulfil the basic necessity of Latur citizens. Many philanthropists came forward to help people in Latur district.

One of them, Makrand Jadhav and his team carried out a survey and found that even with the little rain fall which Latur receive, enough water can be saved if the two barrages are deepened and widened which can store more water.

They figured out that the resources required were high and therefore they even depended on in-house people to complete the project. A retired irrigation department engineer from Latur also came forward to oversee the work. In only two months, the team has collected almost Rs 2 crore.

More than 1,000 WhatsApp groups have been created, and everyone from local industrialists associations to jewellers unions has been tapped to provide whatever help they can.

For instance, doctors in Latur have contributed Rs 51 lakh. Even students who had studied in Latur and are currently working abroad are raising funds.

The government has taken took initiative by sending lakhs of litres of water through water train – Jaldoot. This train is on a trail and are expected to be game changer in fight against water scarcity.

Other governments like that of Delhi led by Arvind Kejriwal have expressed their willingness to supply water. Kejriwal in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to supply 10 lakh litres of water per day to Latur for the next two months and demanded that the Centre make arrangements for transportation.

Kejriwal also mentioned that “It will be shameful for the entire country if anyone dies due to water crisis in India in the 21st century. It is the responsibility of the entire country to help the people of Latur”.

(Husein K Chunawala is a post graduate journalism and mass communication student at Indira School of Communication, Pune)