Asia - Pacific

Water train arrives dry Indian city to quench thirst

Southern Tamil Nadu state is facing acute water crisis due to rainfall deficit

Ahmad Adil   | 12.07.2019
Water train arrives dry Indian city to quench thirst Indian Railways / Photo credit

CHANDIGARH, India 

A special train carrying 2.5 million liters of water arrived in parched South Indian city of Chennai, provincial capital of Tamil Nadu, officials said on Friday.  

The region has been grappling with an acute water crisis over past few months due to severe drought. Chennai -- India's sixth largest city with a population of 7 million -- is facing a daily water deficit of at least 200 million liters.

“The train with 50 tank wagons, carrying 50,000 liters of water in each of them from Jolarpettai in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district, reached the filling station to tide over water shortage,” spokesman for Indian Railways, Dhananjayan, said in a statement.

He said the Railways has made an arrangement to bring water from a distance of 200 kilometers till the water situation improves in the city.

The crisis is so acute that many hotels and restaurants have shut down temporarily in the province, which is not only the manufacturing hub but also a destination of health tourism.

The Chennai metro has turned off air conditioning in the stations while many offices have asked staff to work from home in a bid to conserve water.

Experts, however, say much needs to be done by the government.

“This [water train] is advertisement for the failure of water management in Chennai. Over hundreds of years, the city which was blessed with rain from two monsoons, was endowed with three rivers, four dams, thousands of water bodies and collective traditional wisdom of conservation of water,” Himanshu Thakkar, a water expert told Anadolu Agency.

He said the city needs to harvest rain water and stop all wasteful water usage activities.

The province of Tamil Nadu state, home to around 72 million people on the Bay of Bengal, is passing through a dry patch over past two years. Besides dried out reservoirs, the groundwater has also shrunk.

Residents of Chennai city are mostly forced to depend on private companies, selling water through tankers. People are seen waiting in long queues for a drop of water.

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