Pungent odour rattles Kelambakkam residents, TNPCB sets up monitor

Almost every resident who responded to the survey said that they close the windows, while around 15% said they use an air-conditioner.
TNPCB officials set up an air monitoring device in the locality on Wednesday |
TNPCB officials set up an air monitoring device in the locality on Wednesday |(Photo | Express)

CHENNAI: Several residents living in gated communities in Siruseri and Kelambakkam, about 20 km south of Chennai on the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), have raised a stink about a foul, ammonia-like smell every day late in the evening and night for the past few weeks. Some residents have pointed out that the smell is pungent like urine, which is exactly how ammonia smells.

After a complaint was filed with the Chengalpattu collector and the Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), officials swung into action and set up an air monitoring device in the locality on Wednesday.

Around 20,000 people live in more than 10 gated communities like Eden Park, House of Hiranandani, Appaswamy, Arihant Firangipani, Varna Bhoomi and La avenue in the locality. Residents of the hostel of Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) are also reporting this odour and issues like throat irritation and itching, coughing, nausea, eye and skin irritation.

In a survey among residents, more than 90% of them complained about the smell reaching their homes - everyday or at least several times a week. More than 80% said that it hit them from 5pm-8pm in the evening, while many said that the odour was strong during night and midnight.

Almost every resident who responded to the survey said that they close the windows, while around 15% said they use an air-conditioner.

The responses in the survey also indicate that residents are worried about harmful effects to children and elderly. While the intensity of the odour is felt heavily by those living in higher floors, some residents living in lower levels say it is unbearable.

One family complained that their child suffered from loose motion and vomiting often in the last few weeks due to the smell.

Some mathematicians at the Chennai Mathematical Institute, who reside in these gated communities, attempted to zero in on the source of this smell using a ‘Gaussian plume model’ and identified some industries near the Vandalur-Kelambakkam highway as the ones who might be letting it out.

The residents of L&T Pragnya Eden Park in Siruseri, which is a gated community, submitted a representation to the Chengalpattu collector on May 28. A local TNPCB official declined to comment on the issue. The district environmental engineer could not be reached for a response.

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