Residents waiting with hope for Slum Free City plan to become a reality
True to the idiom, when it rains it pours, when it rained in Coimbatore, it poured problems for the poor. Thanks to the inadequate support system, even the three spells of rain has left the city battered making life bad for the middle class and worse for the poor.
While for the middle class it is a matter of making their motorcyles and cars wade through water-filled, pot-holed, badly lit roads; for the poor it is a question of retaining a roof over their head and ensuring a peaceful night sleep on a dry floor.
Inadequacies in infrastructure and logistics that have resulted in one confirmed death, water logging, sewage from open sewers getting mixed with rain water, have come as a rude wake up call for the city’s people. It has also left them in a quandary as to how the city will hold up when the full onslaught of North-East monsoon will begin in a couple of days.
Residents of Kallukuzhi on Puliakulam Road are expecting the same fate that has plagued them for the last 85 years. True to the name of their colony, the 300-odd houses are located in a gorge from where the houses situated at the normal road height seem as if they are on a hill. The rain water, along with sewage from the road gushes down the gorge where these people live and stagnates in two pockets, along with garbage and snakes.
For 65-five-year old N. Ayyasamy and his family, it has become habitual with water filling their tiled houses, families evacuating the houses, moving to the nearby kalyana mandapam, eating the food doled out by authorities, and staying there till the water receded. Their woes increases manifold with the stagnant water breeding mosquitoes and diseases.
A few other settlements in Nanjundapuram, LG Nagar near Podanur, Sunnambu Kaalvai near Aathupaalam along the Sanganur Canal, and Selvapuram, are some that normally face difficulties.
Though these are not situated in gorges, they are either located in low-lying areas or in the path of a waterway.
Selvapuram resident Sasi Raja, who works as a maid, has lived near the Chinthamani Kulam for 23 years and has had instances of flooding in her house.
But the authorities have been quick enough to provide relief so that they did not have to shift to kalyana mandapams.
For residents of Sunnambu Kaalvai who live in the path of Kuchikulam and the Noyyal check dam, it has become a matter of routine to have water gushing in front of their house from one side to the other.
In the absence of public transport in water logged areas, they are forced to wade through knee-deep water with the fear of stepping into an open drain.
The problem of these poor people compounds in the light of the fact that they do not have access to closed toilets. With slush, water-logging, and snake menace during rainy season, it is a challenge even to answer nature’s call.
With the NE monsoon at the doorstep, the city’s poor living along water bodies and in low-lying areas await with hope for the State’s Slum Free City plan to become a reality.