CHENNAI: Illegal sewage connections to storm water drains have been a continuing issue in the city, resulting in pollution of waterbodies. Even when there is no rain, the concrete drain off Langs Garden road perpetually discharges waste water into the Cooum. According to local residents, the sewage is from establishments in Mount Road nearby.
“If there is rain and the drain releases water, you can call it is storm water but even when the city is bone dry, this narrow stream of sewage continues to flow into the river,” said Chandraprakash, who runs a courier service. Another such concrete drain is visible off the EB Link road.
After inspecting around 37,100 premises in the city, the city Corporation had told Express in 2018 that 461 illegal sewage connections to storm water drains had been identified. An RTI response to city-based civic rights group Arappor Iyakkam in 2017 had stated that there were ‘no records’ to the query on actions taken to plug illegal sewer lines’ from 2013-2016.
When Express followed up with Corporation officials on the status of the 461 sewage connections identified in 2017, a senior official said that all the 461 connections had been plugged in coordination with the Metro Water Board. Metro Water, for its part, had identified 179 outfalls into the Cooum, Buckingham Canal and Adyar basin that it resolved to plug by January 2016.
However, no new enumeration of illegal sewage lines had been taken up since. “Because of Covid, we haven’t done any fresh surveys after that; the entire machinery was involved in Covid management and enforcement. However, it’s just that there is no centralized drive. As and when they (illegal connections) are identified, they are disconnected at the zonal level,” said a senior Corporation official.
In a 2017 amendment to the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919, the fines for illegal connections were fixed at Rs 5,000 for ordinary (ground+two floors) residential buildings and Rs 10,000 for ordinary commercial buildings.
The fines for special (ground+four floors) were fixed at Rs 25,000 for residential buildings and Rs 50,000 for commercial buildings. For multi storeyed residential buildings, a fine of Rs 1 lakh is to be imposed and Rs 2 lakh for commercial buildings.
When asked if records of fines collected for illegal sewage connections are available, a senior corporation official said that while there are no centralized records, zonal level authorities impose and maintain records of the fines. “We have instructed zonal-level authorities to impose fines and have conveyed to them the general format of notices to be issued. They are promptly levying fines and maintaining records,” the official said.