The Maharashtra government is mulling a plan to provide drinking water to drought-affected Latur in the Marathwada region through railway wagons.

Maharashtra Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Eknath Khadse said that the state government is considering supplying water from Ujni dam near Pandharpur to Latur via railway wagons.

"We have instructed officials to calculate the cost of implementing the plan. Each goods train wagon would have a capacity of around 70,000 litres. It is more expensive to supply water on truck tankers than by railways," he said.

However, when asked to elaborate on the government's plan to supply water using railway wagons, Maharashtra Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Babanrao Lonikar today said, "I have no information on the issue."

Lonikar said that the government's plan to tackle the drinking water crisis was "discussed in the Cabinet sub-committee meeting today" but maintained that he "cannot disclose the committee's decision".

Talking about his department's work, Lonikar said that, apart from the Jal Yukt Shivar scheme, it has decided to increase the depth of rivers so that water storage level increases in the event of good rainfall.

"After Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's instructions, JCB machines have been brought to the Marathwada region for the purpose. We have set a target to completely remove mud settled in all small rivers across the region within five years," he said.

According to government figures, the Marathwada region is worst affected by the drought, and water levels in Beed, Latur and Osmanabad districts of the region have gone below 600-ft. Meanwhile, Lonikar added that 1,751 tankers are in service to provide water to 1,342 villages and 2,362 wadis in the Marathwada region.

Water in Nanded is being supplied from the Vishnupuri dam, while Jalna and Parbhani get water from the lower Dudhana project, which has a capacity of 12 TMC.

Lonikar also said that the government has decided to purchase fodder from neighbouring Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.