27th June, 2003


PROVIDING SUCCOUR TO WATER-STARVED VILLAGERS IN RAJASTHAN


"Had it not been for the special trains that bring water, it would have been impossible to survive in this year’s drought" says Shankar of village Naraina.

Shankar is one of the residents of Naraina, near Phulera station in Rajasthan, who wait eagerly for the water special train that reaches there once in two days to provide them water. Most of the wells in the region have dried up and whatever little water that comes out of the hand pumps is unfit even for the animals to drink. The ground water level has plummeted steeply and the water brought by the special wagons is the only source of living for these water-starved villages.

Similar sentiments are echoed by Goverdhan Jat, the milk seller, and Lalchand, a construction worker in Naraina. The situation is grim and without water, rearing of cattle has become very difficult for the milk seller.

Rajasthan has always been under the shadow of drought due to its geographical characteristics. The average rainfall is very low and this time the situation is more serious because of the continuous drought for five years.

All resources have been pooled in to provide relief to the drought-hit people. The responsibility for drought management like other natural calamities rests with the State governments. The Centre helps the States in carrying out relief operations through financial assistance, foodgrains and logistical support.

The noble services for a social cause provided by the Indian Railways by running the water special trains has come as a blessing for the water-starved villages in the drought-hit areas. The railways in Rajasthan runs seven broad-guage and four metre-guage rakes everyday to supply the nectar of life to nearly 11 lakh people.

On an average the railway loads up to 650 wagons daily and carries 1.25 crore kilolitres of water.

On the broad-gauge, the water is loaded at Bhagat Ki-Kothi and Jawai Bandh in Rajasthan and taken to Pali, Sojat Road, Bomadra and Khemli. So far a total of 1,336 rakes have been loaded from these two places. In the metre-guage section, water loading is done at Nasirabad and is carried to Bhilwara, Girwala, Marwar, Naraina, Pili-ka-Bas, Falna and Charbhuja. So far, 557 rakes of water special have been loaded at Nasirabad. The railways has been transporting water free-of-cost on the State Government’s request. The water specials were initially planned to be run till June 2003. But on the State government’s request the service will continue until July.

Inputs from : Pragya Paliwal Gaur, Information Officer, PIB, Jaipur

Photographs : Ramesh Lal Meena, Information Assistant, PIB, Jaipur

 

 
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