`Despite representations, uncovered drains had not been closed'
Udhagamandalam: After a dry spell, which lasted a few days, Udhagamandalam experienced a downpour on Wednesday.
Even as it raised the hopes of the farming community and augured well for water supply, it exposed the inadequacies in the stormwater drainage system in many parts of the hill station in general and in the busy Charing Cross area in particular.
With the water from the overflowing stormwater drains flooding the roads around the Periyar Pillar traffic island on Charing Cross, pedestrians were stranded at many places. Autorickshaws had to be moved from the stand to safer areas.
Pointing out that it was not only a busy area but an accident-prone one, an autorickshaw driver told The Hindu that during every downpour the area was badly affected.
Stating that it connected the Etiennes Road along which there were a number of hotels, the secretary, Nilgiri Hotels and Restaurants Association (NHRA), N. Chandrashekar, said that both vehicular and pedestrian traffic were high there almost throughout the year. He regretted that despite representations, death traps in the form of uncovered drains had not been attended to for long by the authorities concerned.
Many persons, including schoolchildren, had fallen into the drain while waiting for or getting off buses. Even a horse had fallen into it sometime ago. Among the worst-hit were unwary tourists. One of the buildings affected by the conditions prevailing there during the wet season was the one housing the Charing Cross post office.
Meanwhile, sources in the municipality admitted that the storm water-related problem in Charing Cross was chronic and was getting worse.
Stating that some of the commercial establishments along the Coonoor - Ooty Road were to blame for the sorry state of affairs in Charing Cross, they said that the businessmen had encroached on public property and even covered the drains with slabs to facilitate entry of vehicles into their premises. They cautioned that if remedial measures were not taken early, the consequences would be catastrophic. As it is driving or walking on the stretch between Charing Cross and the Regional Transport Office on the Ooty - Coonoor Road was very risky, they added.