Indian Railways is expected to start supplying water to the regions of Navi Mumbai and Thane in Maharashtra after the state government sought Railways' help to counter an alarming situation in Mumbai's suburbs, where water supplies have been drastically reduced.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has approached the Railways to provide water in regions which are facing acute shortage.
Besides, the state government is taking immediate measures to address the drought situation in the state and improve water supply.
While the water-scarcity in Latur has more or less been addressed to an extent through Jaldoot Express, the state government is seeking further help from the Railways to counter the alarming situation in Mumbai's suburbs.
While water-supply in Navi Mumbai has been decreased by 50 per cent since January, Thane region receives water for merely an hour once in 3 days. The situation is even worse in villages of the region.
The plan is to source water from Railway dam located in Maharashtra's Igatpuri. The reservoir is 17 kilometres long and has sufficient amount of water in storage.
However, the Railway had been reluctant to supply water citing concerns that it may face a scarcity for its own use if water from the dam is supplied to drought-hit regions of Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, the drought situation in Maharashtra is intensifying as water resources in most parts of state are drying. The reservoir in parched Marathwada district has only 3 per cent of storage left.
The state-government has launched the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan to conserve water in the upcoming monsoon season. Experts have opined that a robust watershed management system is the solution to the water-crisis in the state.
The state government is seeking a Rs5,000-crore World Bank loan for implementing drought-mitigation steps, from water conservation to changing crop pattern, the chief minister said.
He said the government has submitted a proposal to the external affairs ministry as per the instructions of World Bank and a meeting was held between officials of both sides when the Maharashtra legislature was in session recently.
"We have requested World Bank officials to help us tackle drought from the specific fund they have created for drought mitigation," Fadnavis told reporters.
Elaborating on the World Bank loan, the chief minister said, "The World Bank will support 3,000 villages from Marathwada and 2,000 from Vidarbha to make them drought free. We will focus on water conservation works and later decide the crop pattern of drought-prone regions."
The scheme will be implemented in Aurangabad, Beed, Latur, Osmanabad and Akola, Buldhana and Amravati districts, he said.