Chennai: Chennaiites have a reason to rejoice as the train from Jolarpettai, Vellore, carrying 2.5 million litres of water reached the filling station at the Integral Coach Factory Yard in Villivakkam yesterday afternoon. The water will reportedly be pumped to Kilpauk water works to be treated from where it will later be distributed to the rest of the city.
According to a media report, the train had carried 50 tank wagons carrying 50,000 litres of water in each, and around 100 inlet pipes are installed near the railway tracks to discharge the water. The arrangement has been made for the next six months until the north-east monsoon rain arrives. Two rakes, each having 50 BTPN wagons, have been allotted by the Southern Railway for the purpose. Two locomotives in push-pull formation have been allocated to each water train in order to cut down on time.
The arrangement took around 20 days, and the train was earlier expected to reach Chennai on Thursday, but due to leakages in the valves it was delayed.
Chennai has been reeling under acute water scarcity of at least 200 million litres the last few months and the four reservoirs supplying to the city have run dry. To conduct its everyday operations, Southern Railway depends on Chennai Metrowater. Due to severe water crisis in the city, officials took steps to bring in water-filled wagons from Chengalpet since last year.
The K Palaniswami-led Tamilnadu government has allocated Rs 65 crore for the project of transporting water via trains. Reports say that Southern Railway will charge Chennai Metro Water Rs 7.5 to Rs 8.5 lakh per trip.
Speaking at the ceremony, State Municipal administration Minister S P Velumani announced 10 million litres of water per day (MLD) would be brought through rail from Jolarpettai. He also added that the government was in talks with the Railways to bring down the cost of transportation and that the Chief Minister had written to the Railway Minister regarding the same. Among other ministers present at the event were Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, Minister for Tamil Official Language and Culture ‘Ma Foi’ K Pandiarajan.
During the Assembly session, DMK legislator A P Nandakumar, who represents Anaicut in Vellore district, said that the opposition party had no objection in water being supplied to Chennai from Jolarpettai, but additional quantum of water should be pumped for areas under the Vellore Combined Drinking Water Scheme to ensure that people of his district were not affected because of this.
Velumani replied that the Chief Minister had held a review meeting regarding the matter and advised that people of Vellore should not be affected due to the proposed water supply scheme to Chennai. Under the VCDWS, being implemented at a cost of Rs 1,295 crore, about 34 Million Litres Per Day (MLD) was being obtained in Vellore District and only a quantum of 10 MLD is supplied to Chennai, he said. “People of Vellore District will not be affected by supply of water to Chennai,” he said.