The first train carrying water from Jolarpet railway station in Vellore district to Chennai finally begun its journey on Friday. This is expected to bring an additional 10 MLD of water per day to the capital which is reeling under acute scarcity of the essential resource.
Adorned with flowers and bearing a poster stating 'Drinking water for Chennai', train number 23907 departed from the Jolarpet station at 7.20 am. It is expected to arrive in Chennai after four hours. As many as 50 wagons with capacity of 54,000 litres each have been brought from Rajasthan to be attached to the train and carry water. However each wagon will only carry 50,000 litres of water. On each trip, the train will carry 25 lakh litres of water and a total of four trips per day will be made. Each trip will cost the the state government Rs 8,40,000. The Chief Minister had sanctioned a fund allocation of Rs 65 crore for the entire project.
The train embarks on this journey after multiple delays that pushed the deadline three days later than expected. While the workers were initially confident of finishing all works by Tuesday evening and starting supply on Wednesday morning, they missed the schedule.
Reports state that a trial run to pump water into the pipeline was scheduled for Tuesday morning but got delayed. Workers were busy getting the water mains ready near the filling point while TANGEDCO workers were installing a transformer near the pump house in Mettusakkarakuppam where the underground storage tank with a capacity of 5.05 lakh litres is located.
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. It took a little more time on Monday, so other work too got delayed.”
In June, soon after rejecting Kerala’s offer of a one time supply of 2 MLD of water to the city, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami announced that Chennai will be getting water from the neighbouring district. According to reports, this is the first time in 18 years that the capital city will bring water from other places in train wagons.