On Friday and Saturday, residents of Gandhi Grama in Pottery Town did not sleep all night. Water gushed into their homes from everywhere — stinking of sewege and toilet waste from smaller drains, overflowing from the storm water drain and swirling in from all the other areas around.
“There was nothing we could do. Throwing out the water as it came in was not practical because our area is at a lower level. We held our kids, sat on our beds and waited for the rain to stop,” Sharada, a resident, rued.
The area has had a problem with rain water flooding their homes for decades, residents say. A glance at many of their homes shows residents have taken precautions themselves, where the civic authorities have failed them.
Most houses are slightly elevated from the ground and a few steps lead to the entrance. Others have cemented a barricade, at least a foot high, across the doorway to keep water from entering in.
Many houses have toilets outside so that when the water overflows from there or from the drains underneath, it does not enter the living area. The few who do have toilets inside just have to bear with the mess the rain brings upon them.
None of these precautions have helped, though. Renuka Prasad, a driver, points to the peeling paint and exposed bricks on many of the walls, reaching almost to his shin. “That’s the level of flooding when it rains,” he says.
First-time MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy of the JD(S), who represents Pulikeshinagar Assembly constituency under which Gandhi Grama falls, promised to ensure that the drain water is cleared. “I have been visiting all the areas in my constituency and this is a problem that everyone is battling. Once the retaining wall of the drain is rebuilt and the garbage is cleared, the issue should be resolved. Work on this will be done immediately,” he says.
Devika Rani Sridhar, the Congress corporator from S K Garden, says: “There is some fence work going on in the storm water drain because of which it is blocked and the water overflows. The work was stopped for a little while and we will resume it tomorrow. In about three days, we will clear the drain.”
“We are afraid to sleep at night when it rains,” says Dhanalakshmi. “We make sure our kids are nearby and our valuables safe, away from the ground.”
She has given up hopes of any politician helping them out. “This has been happening for years and we have told every politician who has visited us asking for votes. But after that they don’t bother showing up and we just have to do things ourselves,” she points out.