CHENNAI: The amount of water let into the sea over the past three weeks could have catered to Chennai’s water needs for one-and-a-half years. According to official sources, over 20 thousand million cubic ft (TMC) of water was released from five major reservoirs in the city (which supply drinking water) since November 6. With Chennai’s water requirement being 1 TMC per month, about 20 months’ supply was wasted.
Even on Thursday, as much as 2,000 cusecs of water continued to be released from the Chembarambakkam and Red Hills reservoirs. Public Works Department officials said they would wait for the rains to subside before beginning desilting work. Currently, water is being released in phases to avoid inundation in the low-lying areas, officials said.
However, experts pointed out that no lessons were learnt after the 2015 deluge, when drinking water that would suffice for 25 years was wasted. “After facing the worst drought in 2019, the reservoirs were neither desilted nor deepened even when they were bone dry. Moreover, the run-off (the amount of rainwater wasted) is 80 per cent,” said S Janakarajan, water conservation expert. Chennai has nearly 4,200 small waterbodies and an average annual rainfall of 140 cm.
A retired professor from the State Water Resources department, P Ramachandran said, with such heavy rainfall, if water is stored, there would be no need for desalination plants to meet drinking water needs.
Trains cancelled, hamlet marooned in downpour
With the Thoothukudi Railway Station waterlogged, the Southern Railway cancelled the Thoothukudi-Tirunelveli passenger train. The Thoothukudi-Mysore express train was rescheduled to 9.15 pm instead of its regular departure time of 5.15 pm, and the Thoothukudi-Chennai express, supposed to depart at 8.15 pm, was rescheduled to 12.15 am. Parts of the Tiruchendur Murugan Temple were also flooded with the Giri Prakaram and Inner Prakaram seeing knee-deep waters.
A portion of a wall on the seaward side of the Giri Prakaram fell. The intense rainfall left a hamlet with 25 residents in Valasamudram village on the outski r t s of Thoothukudi marooned after two jungle streams swelled up. Fire and rescue personnel were pressed into action to help the villagers.
Further, Pungavarnatham village near Kovilpatti and Ayanrasapatti near Ettayapuram were submerged and rescue efforts were on. According to the district administration, a team of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel were deployed. Rainwater entered into houses at Pettai Narikuravar Colony and Krishnapuram in Tirunelveli and Anushya Nagar in Nanguneri while 15 goats were killed in a lightning strike in Munainchipatti. Among the southern districts, recentlybattered Kanniyakumari only experienced moderate rains.
(With bureau inputs from Chennai, Ramanathapuram, Madurai, Virudhunagar, Kanniyakumari & Tirunelveli)