Downtown

Tank talk begins

Work on rebuilding the weathered steps began a few days ago. Of the four flights of stairs, one has been redone. Photo: M. Srinath

Work on rebuilding the weathered steps began a few days ago. Of the four flights of stairs, one has been redone. Photo: M. Srinath   | Photo Credit: M_SRINATH

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Residents of Mylapore hope Chitrakulam will don a clean look during the annual car festival in January. K. SARUMATHI on the efforts to reclaim it

Long-time residents of Chitrakulam North Street are having their fingers crossed. They are hoping that at least this time around, the tank near the Adi Kesava Perumal Temple in Mylapore would not have to be artificially filled with water, ahead of the annual car festival. The recent spell of rain has filled the tank, raising the water level to three feet. Residents hope for more rains so that the tank is filled considerably enough for them to have a grand event in January.

However, it’ll take more than a good monsoon for the tank to recapture its lost grandeur.

On the positive side, the tank is being renovated since a year ago. The work is being carried out in phases.

A new mandapam has been constructed in the middle of the tank. Certain cleaning activity, including removal of grass and weed from its floor bed, was taken up a few days before rain hit the city.

“Up till 1985, the tank was filled to the brim with water. And then, it started going dry. Till 2006, it was left in complete neglect. Then the government took the initiative and got it cleaned. But the work was stopped midway. Only last year, we saw some activity inside the tank. A new Mandapam was constructed by the temple trust,” says Ramkumar, who has been living in the area next to the tank for 52 years now.

The work on rebuilding the weathered steps was started a few days ago. and Of the four flights of stairs staircases, one has been redone. “They have broken the other steps and left construction material near the tank. Due to rain, the work was left incomplete, but we hope it is taken up again and finished before the car festival gets under way,” says Dhanasekar, another resident.While a full tank would mean a grand temple festival, it will also help recharge the ground water in the area. “The tank has been a good source of water for us. When the tank was in its golden days, we never faced water problems in the area and the ground water was not brackish,” says Ramkumar.Though stormwater drains from Appu Street, Salai Street and Tank Road are connected to Chitrakulam, most of the lines are blocked, hindering free flow of rainwater into the tank. Residents say desiliting was only partially done a few months ago. “If they had cleaned the ducts, a lot of rainwater would not have been wasted gone waste and would have half-filled the tank,” they say.Another issue is the presence of unauthorised shops surrounding the tank. When the Corporation evicted vegetable vendors from the Mada Streets in Mylapore, they were given an alternative space near the Chitrakulam. “They were supposed to operate from push carts only in the evening. But slowly, permanent structures came up and now there are only a few vegetable shops. You can find eateries, flower vendors, mechanic shops and others selling from here. Vegetable wastes are dumped in the tank and even passers-by throw garbage into it. Only if these practices are curbed can the tank flourish,” says Ramkumar. Some feel that a huge iron fence will deter people from polluting the tank.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 9:01:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/tank-talk-begins/article6577832.ece

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