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Parched City of Chennai, India Hails Arrival of First Water Train - Reports

© Flickr / Vinoth ChandarA view of Kapaleeswarar Temple, Chennai, India.
A view of Kapaleeswarar Temple, Chennai, India. - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): A special train carrying water arrived in the northwestern neighbourhood of Villivakkam near Chennai, India on Friday afternoon from a railway station 217 km away, bringing relief to the desperate people of this city, which has been heavily affected by an unprecedented water crisis.

Fifty wagons, each carrying 50,000 litres (2.5 million litres) of water sourced from a river, have been brought to Chennai, a regional capital which is home to about 11 million people in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Politicians representing various political parties were present along with people to welcome the ‘water’ train.

The ‘water’ train arrived in the afternoon from the Jolarpet Railway Station, located 217 km away. It was originally expected to reach Chennai on Thursday, but leakages in a water tank that was being used to fill water in the train wagons forced the railway authorities to delay the departure of the train by a day.

According to a report by the news channel NDTV, Chennai Metro Water, the government-run institution that manages the water supply for the city has set itself a target of ferrying 10 million litres a day to end the 24-day water crisis.

A section of netizens said it was about time that the state government took the initiative to address the water crisis as a priority.

Some others described the crisis as a grim reality.

​Historically, Chennai has relied on annual monsoon rains to replenish its four main water reservoirs since it is next to impossible to take water from the polluted rivers in the state of Tamil Nadu. On 19 June, Chennai City officials declared "Day Zero", when they confirmed that all four main reservoirs supplying water to the city had run dry.

The lack of rainwater and groundwater has left a majority of Chennai’s over 10.63 million population without consistent access to water.

Water shortage has forced schools to shut, companies to ask employees to work from home and hotels to ration water for guests.

Reports quoted railway officials as saying that the plan is to send at least two trains every day to Chennai based on the travel slots available. They also said they expected to raise the number of trains carrying water to go up.

Southern Railways, which manages the movement of trains across the three southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, and the central government administered region of Pondicherry has said it will be charging Chennai Metro Water $10,939 (Indian Rupees 7.5 lakh) for each train carrying water into the city. The Government of Tamil Nadu has sanctioned an amount of over $ 9.4 million (Indian Rupees 65 crore) for this project.

According to the report, each train takes about five hours to reach Chennai's north-western neighbourhood of Villivakkam from where water will be pumped into the Kilpauk Water Works, the pumping station that distributes water to localities in Chennai.

Water supply by train, however, will only ease the water crisis of the city, not increase water supply. 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.

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