Residents of Maravadi Street and Pappamal Kovil Street in Vaithikuppam have been forced to keep their windows shut for the most part of the day, thanks to the unbearable stench that greets them every time they open them. The stench emanates from the canal that passes right through the two streets.
The canal was built decades ago to carry stormwater from the northern parts of the city to the sea. It starts near Karuvadikuppam taking the entire rainwater from the residential areas to the Vaithikuppam canal, and from thereon into the Bay of Bengal. But over the years, the canal’s width had shrunk due to rampant encroachments leaving no room for easy flow of water. In addition, a number of households have been letting out grey water directly into the canal.
According to C. Purushothaman, a plumber and resident of Maravadi Street, “The stench from the canal has made our life miserable. We cannot open the windows in the morning as the wind carried the foul smell to the households in the street. The canal has now turned into a sewage carrier. The sewage has also polluted the groundwater drawn from borewells. The water is dark and smelly and unfit for consumption. “
According to Sunaina Mandeen, member of PondyCan, a civil society organisation, “The canal continues to be a huge health hazard, particularly to children. Sewage and other effluents upstream and also garbage continue to flow in the canal. How can the authorities say Swachh Bharat is even working? What is making it worse is that houses located along the drain are also directly releasing grey water into the canal.”
She added, “This part of the city has an underground sewerage system so why are people allowed to empty their sewage and grey water into the canal? Each locality and neighbourhood should have a survey done on the carrying capacity of sewage and no additional permissions should be given for buildings unless the city is ready to manage that expansion and provide all necessities including water, sewage, electricity and garbage collection.”
According to a resident of Palm Land, a gated community on Pappamal Kovil Street, “The canal runs adjacent to the boundary wall of the houses and the stench of sewage that wafts through the air has made life miserable for the residents. The boundary of the canal has completely eroded and the wastewater seeps into the ground. The situation only gets worse during the monsoon as all the raw sewage stagnating in the drain flows into the houses. The local bodies have never cleaned the drain. The result is that the stagnant sewage has aided mosquito breeding in a big way.”
The drainage system had become dysfunctional. Whenever the canal overflows, the authorities would visit the spot only to control the flow temporarily. Though repeated representations had been made to the authorities concerned, no sincere attempts have bene made for finding a permanent solution, said the residents.
An official said that a permanent solution would be found soon by involving all stakeholders.