Flood mitigation work starts early in south Chennai

The department has also proposed comprehensive flood mitigation projects throughout the city and its outskirts.
Desilting being undertaken as part of pre-monsoon preparedness measures in order to ensure free flow of rain water in Buckingham Canal near Basin Bridge
Desilting being undertaken as part of pre-monsoon preparedness measures in order to ensure free flow of rain water in Buckingham Canal near Basin Bridge(Photo | P Jawhar, EPS)

CHENNAI: The Water Resources Department (WRD) has commenced flood mitigation works earlier than usual this year to tackle the northeast monsoon. The focus will be on the south Chennai areas, which faced severe flooding last season.

The department has also proposed comprehensive flood mitigation projects throughout the city and its outskirts.

Chief Secretary Shiv Das Meena recently inspected a few places in the city and instructed officials to expedite flood mitigation efforts before the northeast monsoon, expected in October or November.

A senior official said, “In Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Chengalpattu districts, there are nearly 4,000 tanks, of which around 1,100 play a major role in flood control. About 900 of these have to be desilted and deepened.

The department has submitted a comprehensive proposal, and once the Model Code of Conduct is lifted, the government will allocate funds for the work. Since 2017, the WRD has been constructing stormwater drains in south Chennai. We identified 27 missing links but have completed only 11 drains in 9 areas such as Urapakkam, Mudichur, Tambaram, Perumbakkam, Narayanapuram and Varadharajapuram. ”

The official said stormwater drains can help control flooding if rainfall is normal. However, construction of drains alone won’t suffice if rainfall exceeds normal levels, resulting in upstream water flowing downstream and spilling over.

Another official said, “Neither the state government nor the local bodies can control factors like climate change and intense rainfall. However, adopting methods from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change can help. Many countries manage water efficiently by creating buffer zones, additional storage facilities, widening riverbeds, and adding gates at inlet and outlet points”. Building aqua parks with ponds and plants to store water during the monsoon can also be beneficial, he said.

The official also said unplanned urban development, including roads, residential areas and outer ring roads, which block water flow is a matter of concern. Coordination between departments like CMDA, Chennai Corporation and WRD is essential to prevent such issues. A separate agency could also be formed to oversee this coordination.

Enhancing river mouths is also a suggestion which can be considered.

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