CHENNAI: The city police has denied permission for a group of residents welfare associations at Sunnambu Kolathur to organise a meeting demanding flood mitigation measures in their locality. A day ahead of the meeting at Sunnambu Kolathur on Sunday, a letter from the assistant commissioner of police (Madipakkam) informed the residents that they were denied permission to hold the meeting “considering the law and order issues”.
“The permission was revoked in the last minute. We are a group of residents welfare associations getting together. What law and order problem could arise?” asked a member of the federation of residents welfare associations in the area. Residents said police had earlier orally told them they could go ahead with the meeting as planned.
A senior police officer told Express permission was denied because the associations had sought permission for a ‘condemnation meet’ where discussions would be against the State Government. “We also heard there were issues among the associations,” the officer said.
For the last three years, a light spell of rain has been enough to leave the residents of Sunnambu Kolathur wading through waist-deep water. With no signs of a better situation this year, the residents decided to get together on Sunday to demand expedition of flood mitigation activities in the area. It was not to be as the police denied permission to hold any such meeting.
The primary demand of residents here, who say that every year is as bad as 2015 for them, is last-mile connectivity of the Kilkattalai lake surplus canal from the Narayanapuram lake area at Kovilambakkam to the marshland. However, with little attention to this, drains from several neighbouring areas have been connected to the surplus canal which runs parallel to the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam radial road at Pallavaram. Without last-mile connectivity, the rainwater is left to chart its own undefined course towards the Pallikaranai marshland.
“Without this connectivity to the marshland, every year, the road is cut at Sri Nagar, through which water flows naturally, to allow flood waters to drain. The road is then relaid again and again,” said GV Ramesh, resident of BKR Nagar.
Fed up of the same plight year after year, the federation of residents welfare associations in Sunnambu Kolathur came up with their own flood mitigation report that also included a study of rainfall intensity and how to channel it to the marshland using its natural course.
They even chalked out an estimate to keep their locality from flooding, including through construction of storm water drains and construction of a missing link for the surplus canal from the Narayanapuram lake to the marshland using a ‘cut and cover’ method.
“We have submitted the reports to the Governor, Chief Secretary and to all bureaucrats concerned. There has been no acknowledgement of a review so far,” said Sankar J, a resident of Kagithapuram.
The canal can only carry 112 cumecs until Narayanapuram and 52 cumecs up to the marshland without spilling over onto the streets, according to their report. Besides, the canal is only equipped to carry 30 per cent of the total inflow to the catchment area due to its irregular width and lack of attention to gradients, said residents.
To add to their woes, the only ‘desilting’ that is ever taken up is in the parts to which there is road access. For instance,a 4-km stretch of the canal near Ambedkar Salai has been deepened unscientifically many times in the name of desilting, resulting in the formation of a ‘lake’ in that area. The other parts that are inaccessible by road remain untouched, said residents.
They also said that a storm water drain along the 200 feet radial road is also crucial in flood mitigation in the area. As it is, the total loss in water spread area because of the 200 feet radial road is 3.3 ha, they said.