CHENNAI: With the northeast monsoon fast approaching, a cloud of fear is looming over the heads of Pallavaram residents, for they have already seen in this July how heavy rains can inundate the area. A heavy downpour that lasted for only a few hours in July had flooded the GST road and adjoining areas. The municipality officials, however, reassure that much has changed since the 2015 floods.
Even as the civic body officials are busy battling the Covid, the residents fear that lack of attention on monsoon preparedness could increase the risk of flooding. Their main worry is the encroachments on one of the inlet channels to Pallavaram lake (Periya Eri) which runs from Government Chromepet Hospital area and passes through the rear side of Madras Institute of Technology before reaching Radha Nagar.
The encroachments have reduced the width of this inlet to 10-15 feet from the earlier 60 feet, alleged the residents. David Manohar, an activist and resident of Chromepet, said that with its present width, the channel cannot be cleaned using heavy machinery. “Sometimes, excavators are stationed on the two main approach roads to the channel —on Radha Nagar main road and near the market — to reach out to and clear the garbage in the channel. This won’t remove the waste from the middle section of the drain,” he said.
Around five years ago, a retention wall was built along the channel, but all encroachments were not removed. In 2017, seven houses encroaching upon the inlet channel were demolished by the officials. It was only two weeks ago, the PWD officials marked some buildings encroaching upon the channel, but they have not taken any further action yet, said the residents.
The channel is one of three inlets to the lake — one other inlet is near the Chromepet police station and the other near Ponds Talc in Thiruneermalai. KAV Ramakrishnan, president of Shanthi Nagar residents’ association and who lives near the channel, said, “The channel has to collect rainwater from various areas.
It overflows when there is heavy and continuous rain. It should be widened, deepened and the encroachments removed.”When contacted, a senior municipal official said meetings were on with the revenue department officials to remove encroachments on the channel. “We are focusing equally on all major activities from Covid containment to flood prevention,” the official said.