Last month, the Indian Railways took it upon themselves to try to help the drought situation in Latur. They sent the special Jal-Doot train, carrying water to the parched areas of Latur. They have already sent almost 6.2 crore liters to the area and the move has been applauded by all.
But yesterday, a news began being reported which was raised a few eyebrows. Media housing began to report that the Indian Railways had charged/levied Rs 4 crore a charges for sending the water to the state of Maharashtra. The news report seemed to be based on a PTI report and media houses like NDTV and the Economic Times had the following headlines:
Rajdeep Sardesai was quick to latch on to this story, and even quicker was Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in Re-tweeting him:
Perhaps Rajdeep Sardesai should have read the full story before he shared it. Looks like he reacted just to the headline, as many on Twitter do. In the same story, as in the NDTV and Economic Times stories, the truth was also mentioned. Central Railway’s General Manager SK Sood was quoted as saying:
“We have sent the bill to the Latur district collector as per the administration’s request, It is up to the district administration whether to pay us or seek waiver of the amount, through proper channels. We sent the water transport bill as per their request.”
So does this mean the Railways was “charging” the administration for the water? Was a bill “levied”? To completely obliterate the ambiguity, the Ministry of Railways tweeted from its official handle that only the cost was shared with district administration for their information:
News about seeking payment for Jaldoot is completely false. The cost of operations is shared with the State government on their request
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) May 12, 2016
From this, it was clear that nothing was being “charged” or “levied” but the district administration was merely being intimated about the cost, at their own request, and they had the option to seek waiver through proper channels as well. It was clear that Rajdeep Sardesai and others had jumped the gun after reading a badly (and deliberately?) crafted headline.
Unfortunately, instead of accepting that he jumped the gun and reacted only to a headline without reading the fine print, Rajdeep sent out the following tweet, which gives an impression that his and media’s comprehension was not at fault:
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) May 12, 2016