“Storm water drains are necessary evils,” said a visibly angry Jai Manickam, a daily wage worker at a private company in Madipakkam. His anger is justified when you peer closely at the storm water bodies on Medavakkam Main Road and in areas such as Keelkattalai, Madipakkam and Ullagaram Puzhuthivakkam.
Like him, there are many others who are sore about the huge amounts of money invested on creating these facilities. While mitigating flood and stagnation related problems during the monsoon, they discharge huge amounts of solid waste and liquid pollutants at an alarming level into lakes and tanks.
Speaking to Downtown, residents in pockets dotted with water bodies said it was a misnomer to call them storm water drains. “They are the principal source of contamination and pollution of our precious lakes and other water sources,” said residents of Manikandan Street, Ayyappa Nagar and Alamelumangapuram in Madipakkam.
Pointing out to a long and wide drain branching off Medavakkam Main Road and draining liquid waste directly into the Madipakkam Lake, they said it was sad to note that both Pallavaram Municipality and Madipakkam Village Panchayat were doing nothing to prevent further contamination of the lake, the biggest in their village panchayat.
Engineers of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply said that the underground drainage project in Pallavaram Municipality was nearing completion and that problems of sewage entering water bodies through storm water drains would soon be a thing of the past.
While agreeing that sewer projects would go a long way in reducing the possibility of sewage being drained into lakes and tanks, they sought to know the condition of water bodies in those localities. They pointed out that even now in neighbouring Alandur Municipality where the underground drainage project was put in place, many water bodies, big and small continued to receive liquid waste through drains, old and recently constructed ones.
The government has no policy on tackling grey water waste discharged from kitchens and washrooms of homes and also from restaurants, commercial complexes, restaurants, hotels which find their way into water bodies. Ranganathapuram or Kadaperi Lake in West Tambaram is a perfect example of this kind of pollution. A huge volume of sewage from public toilets, waste from many restaurants of West Tambaram and sullage from other commercial establishments make their way into the Ranganathapuram Lake through a number of storm water drains. Further, the natural slope of West Tambaram enables the waste to enter the lake.
Not only the Ranganathapuram Lake, there are many others in the southern suburbs of Chennai which have slowly become nothing more than huge reservoirs of sewage and pollutants in the past decade and more.
Storm water drains discharge huge amounts of solid pollutants into lakes and tanks.