Every drop of water has become precious in drought-hit Marathwada region, where the situation is so grim that the dams in the region are left with just five per cent of water ahead of the summer season.
“There is only five per cent water left in Marathwada dams,” Divisional Commissioner Umakant Dangat said.
“We are trying our best to ensure that the meagre water storage lasts till rains arrive,” the IAS official said.
Over 2,300 water tankers are in operation in the region, mostly in the worst-affected Beed, Latur and Osmanabad districts, the senior bureaucrat said.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had on Wednesday expressed concern over the matter and said efforts were being made to provide water to the drought parched region via trains.
“We are making arrangements for water tanker train for Latur. Its movement will be organised as advised by the state,” Prabhu had tweeted.
Dangat said there have been preliminary talks with railway officials on technical feasibility of ferrying water from the Ujani dam in Solapur district to Latur.
In Latur, groups of people have been banned from gathering near water sources, in a preventive measure to prevent riots over water.
Water tankers arrive in Latur once a week, and water through the taps just once a month.
“Water is brought from a distance of 35 km,” said Latur Collector Pandurang Pole.
Dnyaneshwar Chavan, the police chief of Latur, said no more than five people are allowed at wells and public storage tanks for the next two months.
Latur, about 500 kilometres east of Mumbai, is part of Maharashtra’s drought-ravaged Marathwada region, and its half-a-million residents are reeling from years of below-par monsoon rains.
Last year, around 1,400 farmers committed suicide in the region due to causes ranging from crop failure from lack of water to inability to meet loan payments.