CHENNAI: Residents of Burma Nagar are battling with an alleged oil spill in the Buckingham Canal, with the stench emanating from it making life miserable in the North Chennai hamlet. The colour of water in the canal has changed after the recent floods, creating panic among the locals that it may contaminate the groundwater.
It’s been four days since the water channel adjoining the Buckingham Canal in Burma Nagar has been contaminated with an alleged oil spill. “The colour of the entire one-kilometre stretch of the channel has changed and the stench is unbearable,” said a traffic police officer stationed near Sadayankuppam village. The locals are worried that the oil would soon contaminate the groundwater.
“The oil will destroy plants and bother animals inside and outside the water body, and slowly it might contaminate the groundwater. What will follow is havoc,” said A Eashwari, a resident of Sadayankuppam village. Residents added that the situation has worsened after the flood. They alleged that the oil might have leaked into the water body from a nearby oil factory.
Despite several pleas to higher officials, residents say that no measure has been taken so far. “We informed the corporation officials and asked them to clean the lake as it might cause grave health issues in future. We are still waiting for them to take action,” said S Parasuraman, president of the Sadayankuppam village. The villagers also claim that the metro water is contaminated with oil. “There are chances of leakage, as Manali, where the water flows from, has an oil factory,” said the traffic official. “It is a lot better now, but it was horrible before,” said Panchavanam, another resident. “Nowadays, the water stinks less, but if you are unlucky, you might get foul smelling oil-contaminated water,” she said.
While the city seems to be bouncing back to normal, these villagers continue to struggle to get their essential supplies. “We get food, water packets and other supplies from volunteers, but the water provided to us is not sufficient. We need more. And we have no option but to fill our pots with the metro water, even though it stinks a lot,” said N Kamakshi, holding her two-year-old daughter in her arms. “I have to boil the water at least thrice before consuming it. We use the same water for drinking, cooking and bathing. We can’t afford to buy can water all the time; especially not now.”
However, officials from the Chennai corporation claim they haven’t received any such complaints from the residents of the village. “We have not received any such complaint so far, but if this the case, we shall immediately look into it and solve the problem,” said the area engineer of Thiruvotriyur.