TNHB Colony residents have learnt to put up with all-round woes
It was with the hope of a better quality of life that more than 2,500 families bought plots from the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) in the serene, green locality of Sithalapakkam. That was 15 years ago. Today, the colony in Sithalapakkam village panchayat near Tambaram, is reeling under a host of problems.
From erratic water supply, to sewage overflowing from manholes and stagnating in front of their homes, the residents have had to contend with several issues.
Around 2,600 plots were sold in Sithalapakkam in 1997. When the houses came up, TNHB had put in place a complete underground drainage network system for the colony, a couple of overhead water tanks and a ground-level service reservoir to ensure uninterrupted drinking water supply.
Today, there are only 1,500 houses and the families living here are beginning to regret their decision to move here. The drainage network has collapsed as its main and distribution lines are damaged, the motors at the pumping station are missing, the collection well and sedimentation ponds are neglected — resulting in sewage meandering its way all through the colony, before finding its way into Sithalapakkam Lake.
The situation has become so bad that drinking water in several households comes from the tap mixed with sewage. As it comes along with a thick froth and a foul odour, residents are forced to buy packaged water.
According to office-bearers of the TNHB Residents Welfare Association, their area was earlier a cashew grove. In the initial years, the quality of life was beyond compare owing to copious water and the unpolluted soil and air. All this is now a thing of the past.
Things were bad, but tolerable till about a decade ago, but started worsening five years ago, when miscreants began robbing pumps, motors and other equipment.
The office-bearers pointed to the manholes that were on the verge of bursting. Sewage overflowed from them and stagnated outside.
The TNHB had handed over the responsibility of maintaining the basic infrastructure to Sithalapakkam village panchayat, one of the 15 constituent rural local bodies of St. Thomas Mount panchayat union.
The panchayat administration and its representatives simply do not have the experience, manpower or skills to take proper care of the utilities in the colony, residents said. Unless the Kancheepuram district administration and other State government agencies intervened, problems would blow out of proportions, they added.