CHENNAI: After heavy rains lashed the city last week, many pockets were inundated. Similar to previous years’ experience, this year too, sights such as people walking in knee-deep water, mixed with sewage, motorists getting drenched as their two-wheelers flick up the rainwater, and vehicles getting stuck on road were common during the recent spell.
But, the situation during this northeast monsoon will be better than the previous years, say Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) officials. The construction and repair of rainwater harvesting structures (RWH) on roads and house terraces are on the cards.
“During our inspection, we found that 1,36,631 houses currently have RWH in good condition. We have helped construct 3,850 new RWH systems at houses in different parts of the city since April,” said the concerned GCC official, adding that RWH structures in 37,131 houses need improvement and 60,641 houses still lack one. “We will at least cover half of these houses before the onset of monsoon,” said the official.
Fewer vulnerable areas
Compared to 2015, where flood vulnerable points were 1,300, now there are only 65 including low lying areas like Velachery, Mylapore, Saidapet and Perumbakkam, claims the civic body. “Just an hour of rains gives us nightmares. We cannot step out of our home as electric wires dangle in the water. Whatever claims the GCC makes, we still witness heavy stagnation every year,” said P Kailash, a resident of Velachery.
Responding to this, the GCC official said, “Since the areas are low lying, the only way to prevent water stagnation is to pump out water. We have procured nearly 100 pumps to pump the rainwater and discharge it into the nearest drain.”
Devil in the details
This year Corporation workmen are being trained about details like when to place the pump and its positioning. Also, 2,264 low lying places along the streets have been identified in 15 zones where RWH pits would be dug to prevent water stagnation. “We are planning to implement this in 15,000 streets at the rate of 1,000 RWH per zone through CSR and GCC funds.
The officials said water stagnation would reduce because of infrastructural ‘improvements’ like the construction of stormwater drains (SWD) and repairing missing links. However, 90 per cent of the SWDs in the city are faulty and cause more harm than good to the localities. CE has explored these stories in areas like Adyar, Mylapore and Indira Nagar.
“The top priority must be to work on SWDs which wreak havoc during rains. Water bubbles up, gets mixed in sewage and overflows into the street. It compromises public health,” said P Shanthi, Indira Nagar resident.