Chennai: A special 50 wagon train carrying water from Tamil Nadu's Vellore district reached Chennai on Friday afternoon, a Southern Railway official said.
According to the official, each wagon carried 50,000 litres of water. The total water carried was 25 lakh litres.
Technicians in the railway station at Jolarpettai, located over 135 miles (217 km) from Chennai, worked from early on Thursday to fill fifty wagons with 50,000 litres of water each.
The train was flagged off from the Jolarpettai station in the morning.
The unusual water train will provide much needed relief to the carmaking centre dubbed "India's Detroit."
The shortage has forced some schools to shut, companies to ask employees to work from home, and hotels to ration water for guests.
Earlier, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami had announced the state government's plans to transport 10 million litres of water daily by rail from Jolarpettai to meet the needs of parched Chennai.
He said a sum of Rs 65 crore had been allocated for this purpose.
Currently the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (Chennai Metro Water) is supplying about 525 million litres per day (MLD) in the state capital. The water from Jolarpettai will augment the existing supply.
While the Cholavaram (full capacity 1,081 mcft) and Redhills (full capacity 3,300 mcft) reservoirs and Chembarambakkam lake (full capacity 3,645 mcft) that supply water to Chennai have run dry, 16 mcft water is left in the Poondi reservoir (against a full capacity of 3,231 mcft), according to the Chennai Metro Water.
Bad water management and lack of rainfall mean all four reservoirs that supply Chennai have run virtually dry this summer. Other Indian cities, including the capital New Delhi and technology hub Bengaluru, are also grappling with water shortages.
The train was supposed to reach Chennai on Thursday, but leakages in valves connecting the tank to the railway station forced authorities to push back plans by a day, officials at the railway station said.
People living on the outskirts are blocking roads and laying siege to tanker lorries because they fear their water reserves are being sacrificed so city dwellers, businesses and luxury hotels do not run out.
Ground water levels in Chennai and in regions around the city have been falling due to lack of rainfall. Like many Indian cities, Chennai's growth over the past 20 years has been rapid and haphazard.