CHENNAI: The first 50-wagon train carrying water to Chennai left for the parched city this morning from Jolarpet railway station carrying 2.5 million litres of water. A second train will also carry more water to the city. The Chennai Metro Water has set a target of ferrying 10 million litres a day.
“Based on slots available for movement of these trains the capacity could go up,” said a railway official.
An event has been planned at Villivakkam railway station to receive the first water train. Local Administration Minister SP Velumani and other officials are expected to attend.
Southern Railways will charge Chennai Metro Water Rs. 7.5 lakh for each trip. The Tamil Nadu government has allotted Rs. 65 crore for this project.
Officials say the trains would take around five hours to reach Chennai’s Villivakkam, 220 km away, from where water would be pumped to the Kilpauk Water Works, the pumping station that distributes water to localities in the city.
However, the water supply by train would not increase supply to Chennai. It will only ease the pressure on the state government to ensure a minimum supply of 525 million litres to residents against the requirement of 830 million litres a day.
A 3.5-km-long pipeline was laid connecting the Jolarpet railway station with a pumping house. A trial run of the supply line was carried out on Wednesday.
Blaming four parched drinking water reservoirs outside Chennai due to inadequate monsoon last year, Chennai Metro Water has cut piped water supply by 40 per cent. In many areas, residents don’t get piped water at all.
Chennai Metro Water has deployed 900 tankers for street supply. Many families say they get five pots of water daily from the tankers. Private water tankers have doubled the price since April. The Madras High Court has criticised the Tamil Nadu government for not doing enough.
Chennai is one of the 21 Indian cities that the government think tank NITI Aayog has said would run out of water by 2021.