"The intention was to save precious lives"
MADURAI: Three persons drowned in the Mariamman Teppakulam last week. The city lost not only three of its citizens but also significant quantity of precious water.
Public Works Department had filled up the tank with 10 mcft of floodwater through natural river course. Saved was around Rs. 3 lakh that otherwise would have been spent to pump water from the Vaigai river into the tank using diesel motors. But now, lost were not only the PWD's efforts to clean up the Panaiyur channel for carrying fresh water into the tank, but also equivalent amount of saved money in pumping five feet of water out of the tank.
The residents lost the pleasure of a short-term boat ride, as it was suspended following the drowning.
In the last three days, 50 per cent storage has been drained out. With 13 more days to go for the float festival, residents around the tank predict that the water level will further dip by at least two feet due to evaporation and percolation loss.
"In the past, sludge from the Vaigai used to be pumped into the tank. The tank used to stink when the float was pulled," said a resident. "Last week, thousands of people ran to conserve water. But within days, huge quantity of water has been wasted," he added.
Now the temple authorities have planned to pump in, if need be, water from Manalur head works of the Corporation. The Joint Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, T. Swaminathan, said the intention behind pumping out water was only to save precious lives and not waste water or money.
Over and above barricading all 12 flights of steps in the tanks, around 12 police personnel and two temple employees are keeping the temple tank out of bounds for the common man. "We have so many people guarding the tank. But water had to be maintained at a safe level so that mentally unstable people do not barge into it, endangering their lives," Mr. Swaminathan said.
Besides, five Armed Reserve police personnel, two boats and a team of fire service personnel have bee deployed to rescue people who jump into the tank.
"It is an experience for us. Next year, we want to fence it to prevent any untoward incident," he added.