A 29-year-old man is believed to have drowned after he was swept away by a strong current on the inundated causeway across Adyar river between Gowl Bazaar and Gerugambakkam on Wednesday evening. His body has not yet been found.
The victim, S. Muthu had gone to the rescue of a cyclist, who was stranded midway on the causeway. Muthu ensured that the cyclist got to the other side, but while returning, he was swept away into the overflowing river.
Police said Muthu of Veerabadran Street, Pozhichalur, was a sand lorry driver. On Wednesday, around 7.30 p.m., he was on the Gowl Bazaar side of the causeway on his motorcycle, and was among a small group of people who witnessed the Adyar river flooding the causeway.
He noticed a cyclist stranded in the middle, struggling to get to the Gerugambakkam side. Muthu walked through the water and helped the cyclist get to the Gerugambakkam side. He was walking back towards his motorcycle, when he was swept away.
Usually, water from the Adyar river only flows over the causeway when the shutters of Sembarambakkam Lake are opened during the northeast monsoon. However, the sudden heavy rains in areas bordering Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur district over the last few days had resulted in the river flooding.
Residents of Gowl Bazaar said that every year, during the rains, there was a case of drowning around the causeway. Had barricades been placed on both ends of the causeway, Muthu’s life could have been saved, they said.
Even thought the incident occurred on Wednesday, it was not until past noon on Thursday that a case was registered at the Shankar Nagar police station, as there were jurisdiction hassles.
Gowl Bazaar comes under the Shankar Nagar police limits of St. Thomas Mount police district, while Gerugambakkam comes under the Mangadu police station limits of Ambattur district and the causeway is located on the border of these two police stations.
Muthu, the son of a Metropolitan Transport Corporation driver, is survived by his wife and their two children.
Residents said the State government should either increase the height of the causeway or build a bridge for the benefit of the several thousand people who lived around it. “My elder brother was swept away in a similar manner four years ago when water flowed over the causeway as he was grazing his cattle,” said R. Vellai, a local.
“We have appealed to the government many times but have not received any compensation so far,” said Mr. Vellai, adding that his elder brother was survived by his wife and two school-going children.
Another resident, 66-year-old M. Murugan, said it was high time the causeway was improved. “I have lived here all my life. The causeway has not been improved at all. We have to take a circuitous route through Guindy or Kunrathur to reach Gerugambakkam and Poonamallee,” he said.