Chennai: The residents of Chitlapakkam were out on the streets during the recent rain not to enjoy it but to escape the water that flowed into their houses.
Much against the popular belief that Chitlapakkam lake leads to flooding in the area, it is found that it was actually water from the Selaiyur lake that is responsible for the misery of the people of Chitlapakkam.
The excess water from Selaiyur lake flows through the check dam at the lake. This water then follows the path laid by a canal and reaches Kannapar Street Extension through the stormwater drains.
This is where the real problem begins as the stormwater drains end half-way down Subash Chandra Bose Road.
Residents alleged that this is because of lack of co-orindation between the Tambaram Municipality and Chitlapakkam Town Panchayat.
The water which till then flows into the stormwater drains is let out into a vacant plot opposite Sri Nagathaman temple here (probably to avoid the flooding of the houses on this stretch).
However, the water which flows with such force cannot be stopped and it finds a way around to reach Sethunarayanan Street (Selaiyur – Chitlapakkam border).
Then, 60 per cent of the water flows on to Pamban Swamigal Salai and the remaining 40 per cent, into Babu street, Thenupureeswarar Street, Manonmanian Street and Vaidyalingam Street (near Violet School) and reaches Pamban Swamigal Salai and empties into Sembakkam lake at three points.
By this time, the water quantity reduces to 2/10th and only a meagre amount reaches Sembakkam. A major portion of the water is lost in the vacant lands of the locality and gets trapped between the buildings.
This is why the Sembakkam lake does not get the actual amount of water it is supposed to get. Even after the 2015 December floods, while most lakes in the suburban areas were brimming with water, the Sembakkam lake dried fast.
The residents allege that all the officials who visit the place during the floods always look for a quick-fix, temporary solution.
“Most of the officials and politicians visit the place only after something has happened. I wonder why no one came and inspected the area before something happens. None of the officials is aware of the actual path the Selaiyur water should take to reach the Sembakkam lake,” said Sugumar, a resident of Subash Chandra Bose Street.
Even now, they are all looking for a temporary solution and not to solve the problem forever, he alleged.
Convenor of the Chitlapakkam Residents Association Coordiantion Committee, P Viswanathan, said the problem was highlighted even during the 2015 December floods. However, no action was taken by the officials which has once again resulted in water overflow this year.
He said they had made repeated requests to make a path for the lake water to travel along the Tambaram-Velacheri Main Road and reach the weir that connects Rajakilpakkam lake with Sembakkam lake.
Sri Sarvamangala Nagar Residents Welfare Association secretary M Ravi said the Sembakkam lake has not been desilted for more than 18 years.
“Since the lake is also in a plain area, without noticeable bunds, the water keeps flowing into the Nanmangalam lake. This water can be tapped and used during the summer season. For this to happen, the lake must be desilted and encroachments removed,” he added.
Speaking to News Today, a PWD official said the water from Selaiyur lake follows its natural course and it was the unplanned urbanisation that has led to the flooding of the residential areas.
“After the 2015 floods, we prepared a plan in which it was proposed to build a stormwater drain below the road to carry the surplus water from Selaiyur lake to Sembakkam lake. However, we are yet to get approval for the scheme,” the official said.
Key points of chaos:
1) Increase in road height.
2) Stormwater drain inlets are above road level.
3) Sembakkam, Chitlapakkam and Selaiyur lakes have not been desilted for years together.
4) Lack of co-operation between the local bodies.
5) Improper cleaning of SWDs before the monsoon.
What could be done:
1) Officials from Tambaram and Chitlapakkam should together arrive at a permanent solution.
2) As a temporary measure, Selaiyur water can be diverted to the sides of the Tambaram-Velacheri Road.
3) The reason for the overflow of SWDs should be studied.