The first special train carries 2 million litres of water to Chennai — but the quick fix might not solve its problems

  • The first special train with 50 water wagons holding 2 million litres of water, has reached Chennai
  • Chennai’s Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board CMWSSB aims to bring as much as 10 million litres of water every day from Jolarpet.

The first special train with 50 water wagons holding 2 million litres of water, has reached Chennai from Vellore on Friday afternoon.

And, this is only one of the many such trains. Chennai’s Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board CMWSSB aims to bring as much as 10 million litres of water every day from Jolarpet, to tide over its acute water crisis.

India’s sixth largest city — which ran out of water after all its four primary reservoir dried up— is going to get drinking water by train almost after two decades. Three years back, a ‘Jaldoot’ made 111 trips to Maharashtra’s Latur supplying approximately 25 million litres.

The Water Bill

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said that they spent as much as ₹65 crore on these trains. The total transportation bill itself can be as high as ₹8.67 lakh.

Simply put, the CMWSSB will have to pay ₹3.17 per litre it bring by the rail route, wrote Nityanand Jayaraman. The port city had also spent a huge amount of money to scoop water from the sea and making it fit to drink.

Four of the city’s primary reservoirs with a total capacity of 11,257 have run dry. Only the Poondi reservoir which can hold over 3,000 mcft, now has a mere 16 mcft of water left. And, the city has few other options but to buy water.

Bathing is a luxury

Ever since the crisis came to the fore after a weak monsoon this year, 5 million of its residents have been drinking contagious water. Bathing has turned into a luxury, and so is washing utensils, as people save it all to drink.

Queues are seen in every lane as they stand by waiting for water tankers, with bright neon plastic carriers. The city authorities are dispatching over 9,000 tankers everyday. Private companies too are supplying 5,000 tankers a day.

The government is doing its best to tide over the crisis. But, experts say that the city needs a long-term solution for a problem that has been plaguing it for 50 years now.
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