Millions stand for hours in scorching summer heat to fetch water as back-to-back drought years cause unprecedented shortages in western Maharashtra, the country’s richest state.
Parts of India is facing its worst drought in four decades, ravaging crops, killing livestock, emptying reservoirs and water supplies used by industry and residents. Now, hydroelectric and thermal power plants are starting to grind to a halt.
A picture of the state’s chief minister, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, was draped over a 50-wagon train as it brought water to Latur, a town 500 km (300 miles) southeast of Mumbai city in the drought-stricken Marathwada region.
But although images of the water trains have led news bulletins, the amounts delivered are too small to meet the needs of the town’s half a million people and a parched region that is home to 19 million.
An unemployed labourer, Haribhau Kamble, said that he had to stand in line for three hours to fill two plastic pitchers from a government water tap.