Even as the water from the Krishna river in Andhra Pradesh has started arriving in Chennai since last week, state authorities confirmed to TNM that the water train to the city would be phased out shortly. The much-publicised water train was announced even as the city was reeling under a drought-like situation during the summer months between April and June. The train was initially touted to carry about 25 lakh litres of water and make four trips per day from Vellore district. However, officials have now said that the groundwater table has been sufficiently replenished to halt the water train.
An official from the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department told TNM, “The water supply will continue till the first week of October. After that, it will be phased out. During the summer months, there was an acute shortage of water, so the water train was started. However, the groundwater table has replenished now. There have been some rains and the Krishna water from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, too, has begun to arrive. So we can manage with that.”
On September 25, 1,500 tmc ft (one thousand million cubic feet) of water was released from the Kandaleru reservoir in Andhra Pradesh to the Red Hills reservoir in Tamil Nadu. This is part of the Telugu Ganga water-sharing project between the two states. Soon after its release, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami announced that the state was planning to lay a pipeline for the Krishna water in order to reduce pilferage of water. Since the water to the Red Hills reservoir flows through an open channel and is subject to ‘evaporation’, the Chief Minister expressed hope that water to the Poondi reservoir being brought through the Krishna pipeline will ensure maximum water supply.
Initially, fifty wagons of the water train to Chennai were expected to carry 50,000 litres of water each, and make four trips per day, with 25 lakh litres of water being transported per trip. The Chief Minister had allocated Rs 65 crore for the entire project. However, the officials have admitted that the quantity of water ultimately brought was only 5.4 million litres per day (MLD) as opposed to the promised 10 MLD.
“It was also not worth the cost and effort. It was Rs 300 per kilolitre. Anyway, with the incoming Krishna water, the water storage levels are also up, so we can manage,” said the official.