CHENNAI: One of the major canals through which excess water from Periya Eri drains into Adyar river at Tiruneermalai is in a state of utter neglect. Choked to the brim with garbage, discarded plastic and waste from butcher shops, and further polluted by untreated sewage from houses and chemical effluents from nearby industries, the canal looks more like a sewerage than a drainage, said residents.
The canal from Periya Eri criss-crosses residential pockets and small-scale industries in Tiruneermalai-Nagalkeni areas for a distance of three kilometres and reaches Adyar river. Uninterrupted flow of water through this canal is pertinent as it reduces the risk of flooding in the neighbouring localities. Salaman Colony, Lakshmipuram, Sripuram, Ranga Nagar are the localities around the canal which bear the brunt of frequent water stagnation even after light showers.
Though the northeast monsoon is just a week away, the cleaning and desilting work at the canal moves at a snail’s pace, said locals. “Two weeks back, a couple of officials visited the spot and an earth mover was brought to clear the floating garbage. The waste collected was dumped on the roadside, but after a week the local municipality removed it. But similar work never took place again,” said Jayachandran R, a tea stall owner who has his shop adjacent to the canal on Tiruneermalai High Road.
When Express contacted officials from the Public Works Department, they confirmed that the first phase of clean-up started during October first week and that the remaining work will be completed by next week. “Only around `5 crore has been allocated by the State government to desilt all the canals and sub-canals originating from Buckingham Canal and Adyar and Cooum rivers. As funds are limited, we have to carry out the cleaning work only in a phased manner,” said a senior official from PWD. “If we clean the entire canal now, garbage will accumulate again in the next one week. This is the same case with Otteri Nullah, Okkiyam Maduvu and other canals,” added the official.
Other elements such as constant dumping of garbage into the canal by residents, untreated sewage let into the channel from encroachments and houses that don’t have a sewage connection, continue to pollute the water body further. “Government bodies are to be blamed only partially for this issue. Residents fling plastic packets full of garbage directly into the canal. Also, as the canal flows through small-scale electroplating industries, they dump untreated harmful chemical waste into the water body,” said Pughazhventhan V, a resident from Kundrathur.