Residents of Iyyappanthangal on the outskirts of Chennai woke up to knee-deep water outside their houses on Saturday morning after the valve on a major pipeline carrying drinking water to the city from the Chembarambakkam lake allegedly gave way.
The flooding resulted in a complete blackout in the area as the Electricity Board disconnected power supply to ensure safety. Power was restored after over eight hours when a considerable amount of water was pumped out by the evening.
According to residents of EVP Park Avenue, a colony near the Iyyappanthangal bus depot, a “loud noise” woke them up around 5 am. Even before the residents could come to terms with what occurred, a huge amount of water started gushing into the streets.
B Onnappan, a resident, claimed that some people spotted water pouring out of a damaged pipe nearby and immediately called the Chennai Metro Water for help. “But there was no response. The phones were just ringing. Some of us then decided to go alert the Thasildar,” he said and added that the area fell under the Sriperumbudur Taluk in Kancheepuram district.
Residents said within a matter of an hour, the streets in the colony were filled with at least 3 feet of water. The water made its way into several households, forcing the residents to stay indoors till evening when three motor pumps drained out a fair bit of the stagnated water.
“We don’t understand why the response was so late. I came from Porur to meet my friend but had to wait till 3 pm to get into the house. There was that much water and officials came only at 11 am,” alleged Vetri, who said snakes were spotted in the water after which residents were cautioned to stay indoors.
A senior official at the Chennai Metro Water told Express there was no “burst” as claimed by the residents and it was only a leak in a major pipeline as a valve gave way.
The official said almost immediately after the leak was reported, the supply at Chembarambakkam pumping station was stopped. “What came on to the streets was water already in the pipeline that ran several kilometres. The leak has now been plugged,” the official added. The three motor pumps will work round-the-clock to drain out the remaining water from the colony. Asked if the damage to the pipeline would mean disruption of drinking water supply to Chennai city, the official said the supply was being done through a “grid of pipelines” and the leak would have no effect whatsoever. The pipe would be repaired in a day by a special team that is working on it.