After the downpour last week, Coimbatore city raises a stink

The fear the Coimbatore Corporation councillors expressed in August this year, prior to the North East Monsoon, turned true on Wednesday last, when rains pounded the City.

Roads were under sheets of water, subways were flooded and low-lying areas inundated.

In short, life in Coimbatore on the day was thrown out of gear. And it was not the first time the City had seen such a situation.

It happens whenever rain hits hard, as nothing much has been done in the past couple of years, say councillors of the out-going Council.

One of the reasons for flooding on Pankaja Mill Road, Ramanathapuram Junction and neighbouring areas is choked drains, says R.S. Thirumugham, a Congress Councillor.

“The Corporation failed to clean the drains in the area since the June 2010 World Classical Tamil Conference. It, however, covered the drains by laying footpaths. The result: choked drain, stagnant water up to three feet and flooded streets.”

“Had the Corporation cleaned the drains, things would not have turned so worse.”

In Kothari Layout, Sakthi Nagar, Balaji Layout, T. Nagar, Kongu Nagar, Bharathidasan Nagar and other localities off the Trichy Road, the flooding is due to the Sanganur Canal, the Councillor points out.

Water channels that drain out water into the Canal are either silted or encroached upon. For example, a private road has reduced the width of Canal 592, which carries the rain water into the Canal.

Mr. Thirumugham also says that due to lack of maintenance, the width of such natural drains has been reduced and thereby, the water carrying capacity. “This is the reason the aforementioned localities off Trichy Road get inundated.”

If waterlogging is the first of the problems associated with a heavy downpour, traffic jam is the second. And in Nanjundapuram this is more acute because of the slow place of execution of the rail-over-bridge.

Vehicles that ought to proceed to Avanashi Road from Podanur are forced to enter the City because of the absence of the bridge, Mr. Thirumugham points out.

The traffic burden on Avanashi Road, Mettupalayam Road, Cross Cut Road, 100 Feet Road and Trichy Road also increases because of the flooded underpass at Lanka Corner, subway on Avanashi Road and underpass near Kikani School.

The Councillors of the outgoing Council have been talking about it for long but nothing substantial has come out of. It was evident during Wednesday's rain, says P. Rajkumar, a Councillor.

“Many ill-conceived schemes were drawn up but nothing has helped the public.”

Even a heavy drizzle pushes the road users to the flyovers and the spill-over effect can be seen on the arterial roads, he adds.

The Corporation is supposed to take up cleaning of the natural drains in the city. But it has not been able to do so due to lack of funds from the Central Government under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme.

The Government has released funds for only the first phase of the storm water drain project, of which the cleaning-of-the-drains fund component comes later, officials say. The civic body has asked for Rs. 390 crore for the cleaning up operations.

The City will get relief from flooding once the storm water drain project is completed, claims N. Karthik, outgoing Deputy Mayor.

“The drains will be able to take the water away from roads into natural drains. Then, if there were to be heavy rain, the roads will be under water for not more than 15 – 20 minutes.”