The first train carrying water from Jolarpet near Vellore arrived in Chennai city on Friday afternoon with about 2.7 million litres of water in its 50 wagons. According to officials, this transportation of water to Chennai, which is reeling under a water crisis, will continue for the next six months. During this period, the train with water-carrying wagons, which has been brought from Rajasthan, is to ferry up to 11 million litres of water everyday from Jolarpet.
On reaching Villivakkam station in Chennai on Friday, the train stopped at a track exclusively used by Integral Coach Factory. A 700-m pipeline parallel to the track was used to transfer water to processing and storage facilities.
A senior official said the pipeline has 100 flanges to connect with valves on the wagons. “It will take about two hours or a little more to empty all the 50 wagons before they can be sent back to Jolarpet to refill,” he said.
From Villivakkam station, the pipelines will take the water to the water processing unit in Kilpauk before it is released for public consumption.
As per the original contract between the Southern Railways and the state government, the train was to transport 10 MLD (million litres per day) and the transportation cost was estimated at Rs 8.67 lakh for each trip. The government later said they would try to bring in 11 MLD of water. Two coaches with 50 wagons each have been commissioned for the project. The travel time between Chennai and Jolarpet is at least four hours and filling or emptying of the wagons takes a minimum of two or three hours. On Friday, the train reached Chennai at 11.30 am, but the emptying of the wagons started only at 2 pm after senior ministers and officials reached the spot.
The state government has allocated a sum of Rs 65 crore for this project to transfer water.
Water scarcity has forced the Chennai Metro Water authorities to reduce supply from the usual volume of 840 MLD to 525 MLD, especially after major water sources such as Cholavaram, Redhills reservoirs and Chembarambakkam lake fully dried up. The city is expected to get good rainfall only by October or November.