NEW DELHI, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The Indian government on Friday started dispatching drinking water to the worst affected drought-hit southern Indian city of Chennai, officials said.
The first 50-wagon train carrying water left Jolarpettai railway station in Vellore of southern Tamil Nadu state, carrying 2.5 million liters of water, according to officials.
"The first train carrying water from Jolarpettai railway station in Vellore today has reached Chennai," a local government official in Chennai told Xinhua. "Authorities yesterday filled tanks with water and loaded them onto a train."
Reservoirs are running dry in Chennai, which is reeling under an acute scarcity of drinking water.
The Chennai Metro Water has cut piped water supply by 40 percent. In many areas, residents do not get piped water at all, locals said.
Officials said the train adorned with flowers and bearing a poster stating 'Drinking water for Chennai', has reached the capital city of Tamil Nadu.
The Chennai Metro Water has set a target of ferrying 10 million liters a day and based on slots available for movement of these trains the capacity could go up.
Authorities blame four parched drinking water reservoirs outside Chennai and inadequate monsoon last year for the water scarcity. The shortage has forced some schools to close, companies to ask employees to work from home, and hotels to ration water for guests.
The Chennai Metro Water has deployed 900 tankers for street supply. Private water tankers have doubled the price since April.
According to the Indian government's policy think tank, the National Institution for Transforming India Aayog, Chennai is one of the 21 Indian cities that would run out of water by 2021.