Now You See it, Wait till You Smell it!
CHENNAI:Imagine a septic tank measuring 20 acres. All that area filled with garbage and sewage, teeming with flies and mosquitos, and emitting a persistant stench. This is the neighbourhood of Draupadi Amman Kovil Street in Velachery, where a portion of the Velachery lake was separated by a bypass road some decades ago.
The condition of the lake that adjoins the 100-feet road has understandably earned the wrath of local residents, numbering over 10,000, who frequently complain of stench and mosquito menace, and some times even snakes. According to residents whom City Express spoke to, the water body has not been receiving the kind of attention it deserves ever since the road that separated it from the Velachery lake was formed.
“It doesn’t matter whether it rains or shines, we have to bear the stench all 365 days. When it rains, the water overflows from it, forcing us to tread on the sewage water. People here don’t allow children out of their homes during rains fearing that they may catch water-borne diseases. For us, this water body is a gargantuan septic tank,” said Sundari S, a resident.
K Subramanian, who has been staying in the area for over four decades now, recalled that he used to bathe in the very same waterbody a couple of years ago. “Now, I detest going near it,” he rued.
Parts of the lake are encroached and a slum settlement had come up here not long ago.
Many residents point fingers at the slum-dwellers for the present condition of the waterbody, which, however, only tells half the story. The drainage water from residential flats on five streets — Draupadi Amman Kovil I to V Cross Streets flows into this lake every day, which is worsening its condition rapidly. Much of the dirt and stench that they now worry about comes from there.
Premraj K, a resident, said that the issue boiled down to a lack of drainage in the area, adding that the entire lake had to either be cleaned up or even the drastic measure of completely doing away with it. “A fencing or a compound wall should also be put around so that kids do not slip into it accidentally . There are no streetlights either, and recently two kids fell into it. It’s tough for women to walk around this place at night,” he added.
The situation is worse during the rains when the drainage lines to the lake get blocked. Even otherwise, it gets clogged frequently, residents complained. There had been times when they had to defecate in the open during one such crisis. “Only six months ago, we faced a huge crisis as water wasn’t getting drained from our toilets,” lamented Mohan K, another local resident, alleging that the Corporation was adopting a lackadaisical approach towards this, despite the area being considered a posh locality.
When contacted, a Corporation official admitted that drainage lines hadn’t been laid in the area, but hastened to add that the complaints were being taken note of.
“We do clean all water bodies across the city on a regular basis. As far as this issue is concerned, there has been an problem with the pipeline. We will definitely look into it and provide a solution to the residents,” he said.