India ferries drinking water to drought-hit Chennai by train

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 14, 2019

The train with 50 tank wagons (BTPN), carrying 50,000 litres of water in each wagon coming from Jolarpettai in Tamil Nadu's Vellore district, reached the filling station at the Integral Coach Factory in Villivakkam on Friday afternoon. However, the water level at Mettur Dam, the source of the water for the special trains, is now less than half of the average level.

Four special trains a day have been called up to bring water to Chennai - India's sixth most populous city - from Vellore, some 125 kilometres away, to help battle the drought.

The train of hope: this is how the convoy of 50 tank wagons full of water arriving in Chennai is considered by the population.

While the two trains bring a total of 5 million liters of water to the state capital, railway officials said, "Based on slots available for movement of these trains the capacity could go up". The state government has at present committed to ensuring a minimum supply of 525 million litres of water to residents against the requirement of 830 million litres of waters a day. A single trip is estimated to cost over 8 lakh Rupees.

Earlier, Chief Minister K Palaniswami had announced mitigating Chennai's water woes by getting drinking water supplied from Jolarpettai with an allocation of Rs 65 crore. While the workers were initially confident of finishing all works by Tuesday evening and starting supply on Wednesday morning, they missed the schedule.

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A 3.2 km pipeline connecting Mettusakkarakuppam to the railway yard in Jolarpet was being readied by TWAD Board authorities. Explaining the reason for the delay in works, an official was quoted by the New Indian Express as saying, "We had to encounter some problems in running the pipe under a culvert".

All the arrangements took around 20 days of time to complete.

Bad water management and lack of rainfall mean all four reservoirs that supply Chennai have run virtually dry this summer.

The city's economy has taken a hit as some hotels and restaurants shut shop temporarily, and there have been reports of fights breaking out as people queue for water.

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