A train carrying 2.5 million litres of water arrived from Jolapettai in Vellore district to Chennai, which has been grappling with an acute water crisis over the past few months, officials said on Friday.
The train with 50 tank wagons (BTPN), carrying 50,000 litres of water in each of them, reached the filling station at the Integral Coach Factory Yard in Villivakkam on Friday afternoon.
Around 100 inlet pipes installed near the railway tracks would be used to discharge 2.5 million litres of water in all the wagons, to be sent to a treatment plant after passing through a conduit, an official of Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board said.
"After treatment it would be sent for distribution. This arrangement has been made for the next six months until the (advent of the) north-east monsoon," the official said.
The train was supposed to reach Chennai on Thursday, but leakages in the valves led to the delay. Jolarpettai is 217 km away from the southern metropolis.
All the arrangements took around 20 days to complete.
Chennai has been grappling with an acute water crisis over the past few months. The southern metropolis is facing a daily water deficit of at least 200 million litres, and the four reservoirs supplying to the city have run dry.
The Tamil Nadu government had earlier requested the railways to help them ferry the water to the city.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami had announced mitigating Chennai's water woes by getting drinking water from Jolarpettai with an allocation of Rs 65 crore.
Earlier, speaking after a ceremony to receive the train, Municipal administration Minister S P Velumani said the government would bring in 10 million litres of water per day through rail from Jolarpettai.
"We have planned to bring in 10 MLD of water and have allocated Rs 66 crore for the purpose," he told reporters.
The government was in talks with the Railways to bring down the cost of transportation, he said and recalled that the chief minister had also written to the railway minister to offer the service at lesser cost.
He said irrespective of the outcome, the assurances given by the CM would be fulfilled, he added.
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, Minister for Tamil Official Language and Culture 'Ma Foi' K Pandiarajan, among others, were present at the ceremony.
Southern Railways said it has earmarked two rakes (each having 50 BTPN wagons) for the arrangement, which is likely to continue till the water situation improves in Chennai.
It said in a statement that two locomotives in pushpull formation have been allocated to each 'water special' train to cut down on time.
Meanwhile, Dravida Munnetra Kazagham legislator A P Nandakumar, representing Anaicut in Vellore district, said in the assembly that the party had no objection in water being supplied to Chennai from Jolarpet.
At the same time, 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.
To this, Velumani replied that even before implementation of the scheme, the chief minister had held a review meeting 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 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.
Photographs: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photos, P Ravikumar/Reuters