Chennai rainfall | Open spaces turn swamps, cause flooding in neighbourhood
Corporation plans to identify vulnerable areas, take steps to solve the problem
While the impact of the record rainfall received in November was felt across the city, one of the issues that was under-reported was how large open spaces like playgrounds of educational institutions and parks remained inundated for days together. The neighbourhoods adjacent to these places bore the brunt when the stagnant water was pumped out.
Water pumped out from Stella Maris College, which faced severe inundation, flooded the neighbouring residential areas. “The college has paved roads. It prevents the percolation of rainwater. Rainwater harvesting on such campuses should be improved. The drain network in such areas should get a makeover,” said a resident living near the college.
Similar problems were reported in many other campuses. A staff member of Dr. Ambedkar Government Arts College in Vyasarpadi said that water stagnation on the campus was a problem even during short spells of rain. “Even now, a section of the playground has stagnant water. No measures have been taken to solve it permanently,” he said.
Other campuses that faced inundation were Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Tanuvas), Loyola College, Government Arts College for Men in Nandanam, Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya in T. Nagar, and S.R.S. Sarvodaya Girls Hostel.
Residents in areas near Church Park Convent opposed pumping out of water from the campus. The nearby slum was flooded when water drained out.
Dr. Ezhilan Naganathan, Thousands Lights MLA of the ruling DMK, said that he had identified many places that got flooded near such sprawling campuses. “The water from AG’s Office and DMS office premises had to be pumped out towards low-lying residential areas on the other side of Stella Maris College. The drain inside the college to carry such water was defunct. The water had to be diverted towards T.T.K. Road and then to Cooum river,” he said.
Some of the institutions, however, said the problem was not of their making.
The management of Stella Maris College said the residents in adjoining areas like Ellaiamman Colony, Chokalingam Nagar and Parthasarathy Pettai drilled holes in the college compound wall and let the water from their colonies flow into the campus.
Crisis on campus
“This has been going on for many years, but this time the unprecedented rain has aggravated the situation. The college was inundated with water mixed with sewage up to a height of three to four feet since the second week of November. Water entered all buildings; many aged nuns had to be carried to safety; 500 hostel residents have been put to great anguish along with 50 sisters who had to deal with lack of power supply, potable drinking water and inundated hostel rooms. The situation poses a great threat to the health and safety of all on campus,” the management said.
Pointing out that the college was unable to reopen because of the inundation, the management said it had no option but to request the GCC to pump out the stagnant water into stormwater drains. “Since the capacity of the drains is limited, the water overflowed into the surrounding areas,” it added.
S.R.S. Sarvodaya Girls Hostel management said that water pumped out from neighbouring locality inundated the campus.
Highlighting the need for long-term solutions, Dr. Ezhilan said there was a proposal to restore the sewer mains, stormwater drains and other infrastructure in the vicinity of Cathedral Road to prevent flooding in residential areas.
Greater Chennai Corporation officials said as part of a drive, the residential areas flooded by water pumped from large campuses would be identified. A proposal to mitigate the problem of flooding in residential areas in the vicinity of large educational institutions would be readied shortly, said the official.