New Delhi: The Railways on Monday said Latur officials had requested the Central Railway to "indicate" the cost of ferrying water by train to the parched district in Maharashtra.
It said settlement of the water transportation cost of Rs.4 crore was not relevant at this stage.
"The Latur district administration requested the Central Railway to indicate the cost of water transportation by railways. In response, Central Railway shared information on cost of operation. The settlement is not relevant at this point of time as the most important matter is to continue uninterrupted supply of water to the people in their hour of need," a ministry statement said.
It said the receipt of expenditure sent by the railways will be withdrawn immediately.
"Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu is personally monitoring the operation and has directed the railways to continue to run the water trains. The minister has further ordered that the estimate of expenditure sent to the Latur administration on their request be withdrawn immediately. The issue of settlement of dues is being considered separately by the ministry," the statement added.
Around 15,000 villages in Maharashtra, a majority of them in Latur, Beed and Osmanabad district, are gripped by an acute water shortage.
Till now, more than six crore litres of water has been transported by the railways from Miraj to Latur through water trains.
Railways has named these trains as 'Jaldoot' to emphasise the importance of this endeavour.