Sri Kapaleeswarar Nagar faces the beach, but residents are denied desalinated water. Liffy Thomas meets the perplexed group

Spread across nine grounds on First North Main Road, the office of Sri Kapaleeswarar Nagar Welfare Association in Neelankarai is the pride and joy of residents. On the office premises, there are facilities to play volleyball, tennis and throw ball.

These facilities help members take their minds off the problems in their backyard.The colony is facing the sea and the sands of the beach are littered with garbage and abandoned vehicles. Unauthorised constructions mar the charm of the neighbourhood.Exploitation of groundwater is one of the grave concerns and the Association is tired of making representations to the local authorities about it. A majority of residents are dependent on borewells, but the rate at which water is currently being diverted to other areas, they fear that the water table will drop steeply and saline content in the water will go up. “Water was available at a depth of eight feet when we moved into the locality in the 1980s. It is now available at a depth of 25 feet, and below 75 feet it is hard water. That is because it is being supplied to other areas,” says T. Kuppuswamy, a lon-time resident of the area. They want the desalinated water from Nemelli plant to be given to areas on the sea-facing side of East Coast Road too. Neelankarai has five burial grounds, which residents say is only adding to the pollution levels. They want a few of these burial grounds to be replaced with an incinerator crematorium. Ever since the Association was formed in 1981, members have liaised with the authorities for various amenities. A post office and sub-registrar office were a result of that. They frequently convene grievance –redress meetings with local bodies and the police department. “Day and night patrolling has been strengthened after we requested the police at one such meeting. But, we are still waiting to see speed-breakers laid. In the last six months, four accidents occurred because of rash driving,” says D. Sridharan, the Association’s secretary. “Also, there is a plan to re-lay Kalaignar Karunanidhi Road that leads to the beach. We want the Corporation to provide a bitumen-topping for the road and not concrete as it adds to the noise levels,” he adds. The Association has many plans for the neighbourhood. It is persuading the residents to segregate waste into degradable and non-degradable at their households itself. Of the 500 households, only 80 do it.

(At Downtown Cares, resident welfare associations can discuss their neighbourhoods. They can write to us at downtownfeedback@thehindu.co.in or call us at 28576631, seeking a meeting)