Railways rolls back water train bill

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The Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday has come to the rescue of the Maharashtra government by withdrawing the Rs. 4-crore bill for sending water trains to drought-hit regions of the State.

The Hindu was the first to report on May 11 on the bill for the water trains, the first of which reached Latur on April 12.

On Friday, the Ministry of Railways announced that the bill of Rs 4 crore towards the “transport cost” has been withdrawn immediately at the request of the state government. “The Railways will continue to run the trains till there is a need of water and the settlement of the operational expenses will never be a constraint. The issue of settlement of dues is being considered separately, ” the release said.

The issue had triggered a political controversy with the Opposition parties accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of having a “commercial mind set” of doing business even during the time of crisis. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had to later clarify that, “Railways had to charge for water because it is a PSU, but the Centre has given us Rs 358 cr for emergency water supply.”

The Congress claimed that while the Narendra Modi-led BJP went to town promoting how they managed to bring water trains to Latur, the bills have exposed the BJP. “First they took a lot of credit by blowing their own trumpet on the water trains issues, and now their own Ministry has shown the apathy of this government,” Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said.