Waterlogging, sludge-covered streets, overflowing stormwater drains and bumper-to-bumper traffic: Chennai’s litany of woes after Saturday’s spell of rains was no different from any other time
The rains on Friday night were a pleasant change from the searing heat and sultriness of the past few days. But the city’s residents had not reckoned with the consequences.
Residents woke up on Saturday to a cool breeze ushering in a grey morning but on stepping out, were confronted with the perennial problem of waterlogged streets in several areas. Meanwhile, roads that were dug up or not laid at all were covered in slush. Water stagnated in the trenches in areas where the stormwater drain work is incomplete.
Children whose schools were shut on Saturday were the lucky lot as those who ventured out in places like Injambakkam and Velachery were seen wading gingerly through muddy water.
People travelling to work from places like Porur and Valasaravakkam had to contend with bumper-to-bumper traffic.
A resident said it took half-an-hour to reach Vadapalani from Valasaravakkam, a distance of just 5 km.
At the Tiruvanmiyur MRTS railway station’s water-logged two-wheeler parking lot, station attendant V. Thangaraj had a busy afternoon extricating vehicles for commuters. The construction work on the compound wall along the canal prevented the draining of water and resulted in backflow into the parking lot. “Yesterday when I had parked my bike, it was dry. I did not expect it to rain at night and here I am wading through water,” said a vehicle owner who had come to pick up his motorcycle. At Kalakshetra Road, an incomplete stormwater drain was filled with sewage. Vehicles piled up in the narrow road slowing down traffic considerably.
Rainwater stagnation also affected pedestrian movement in various parts of the city. R. Baskar, a resident of Pulianthope, said every year in Ganesapuram subway, an important link gets water-logged and Chennai Corporation officials have to pump out the water. S. Lokaberaman, a resident of Perambur did not step out of his house due to the stagnant water.
“We have had several meetings to convince officials to address various issues including the malfunctioning stormwater drain in SBI Colony 2nd Street. We met with the Mayor too in June-end but nothing has changed,” he said. “The Otteri nullah must be immediately desilted,” he added.
Residents of southern and northern suburbs which were recently added to the Chennai Corporation had mixed feelings about being part of the larger civic body. Many of them felt that the former panchayats had paid little attention to improving infrastructure whereas the Chennai Corporation had taken a few steps. However, the work had not been completed fast enough, they felt.
Kottivakkam resident Chandran said in Swaminathan Nagar, water stagnation was worrying residents who feared the outbreak of dengue and malaria. The canal built in their area a decade ago had not been desilted and now, water does not drain from the streets, he added.
In Bethel Nagar in Injambakkam, all the roads are full of slush and rubble. S. Kasturi said her two children did not go to school on Saturday. “When the monsoon comes, we lock up and move out for three months. The water does not enter homes but we cannot move out of the house as the roads are unusable,” she added. Residents of Sai Ayush Puja Avenue in Kandan Chavadi in the Old Mahabalipuram Road stretch also complained of having to deal with water-logged streets after each spell of rain.
Residents of Ram Nagar (South) in Velachery too had to barricade themselves. Anith Kumar has been a resident of the area for 20 years. “When we came, there were only independent houses. Now there are more flats and since we have only septic tanks, we contend with backflow of sewage from these flats.”
Ram Nagar 7th Cross Street is a picture of slush. New stormwater drains have been built and Corporation officials held a bhoomi puja to lay road. “But the rain has spoilt everything,” he regretted.
K. Durairaj, an autorickshaw driver in Ram Nagar, said: “I will not drive through these roads during rain even if they give me Rs. 100 for a trip. It is Saturday and students have taken leave from school. I don’t know what Monday has in store for me.”