Open drain carrying sewage from commercial establishments has become a perennial source of worry for residents of Gandhi Nagar and Venice Street

For hundreds of families living at Gandhi Nagar and Venice Street, a Dalit settlement near Chinthamani, the open drain carrying sewage from a majority of the city’s main commercial centres has become a perennial health hazard as commercial establishments dump solid waste along the drain.

The drain that runs between Chathram bus stand and the colonies before draining into the Cauvery spreads not only foul odour along its course, but also squalor and disease.

A slew of commercial buildings, including hotels at Chathram bus stand, could be seen letting out their drains directly into the open drain even though the bus stand area is covered by the underground drainage network. Locals allege that even sewage from toilets of the commercial buildings is let out into the open drain.

Ayyalamman Temple ‘manthai’ to the rear of Gandhi Nagar, a vacant piece of land where the locals celebrate a month-long festival during the Tamil month of Chithirai, has also been turned into a mini dump. Garbage from the commercial buildings and a hotel, which stand shoulder to shoulder, are thrown into the ‘manthai,’ complain locals.

Even though the corporation clears the garbage periodically, the area turns squalid owing to the incessant dumping of solid waste from the nearby hotels and commercial establishments.

Corporation workers too compound the situation while cleaning the open drain as the silt and solid waste clogging the drain are dumped on the ‘manthai’. The waste is often left to dry and not cleared for days together. Women say that children in the locality are prone to diseases in view of the poor hygienic condition. An anganwadi run under the Integrated Child Development Service is situated on the one end of the ‘manthai’, right amidst the reeking garbage. The centre has 20 children currently, and they study and eat amidst a swarm of flies and stench.

“There are over 2,000 families in the locality. We have made repeated representations and even staged agitations over the problem. But whenever we resort to agitations, only cases are slapped on us.

The drain was originally more than 20-feet wide, but has shrunk to less than five feet now owing to encroachment. Even the course of the drain has changed near Chinthamani,” says S.M.Sait, a resident of Gandhi Nagar.

The corporation has recently framed by-laws to ban discharge of sewage into open drains and fixed penalties for the violations.

According to officials, the by-laws will be implemented once it is gazetted.