Ramanathapuram ‘ooranies’ in a state of disuse for long

GLORY GONE: Sewage water in Kidavettu ‘oorani.’   | Photo Credit: — Photo: L. Balachandar.

C. Jaishankar

Owing to human neglect and silt

RAMANATHAPURAM: The ‘ooranies’ of Ramanathapuram town, which are known as traditional drinking water bodies, are in a state of disuse for years, owing to human neglect and silting. Many of them have become open gutters, causing concern among the people and environmentalists.

Though there were no proper records to ascertain when the ‘ooranies’ in Ramanathapuram town were created, many of the octogenarians say that they saw the ‘ooranies’ even from their childhood.

It indicates that many of them were established during the period of Sethupathy Kingdom for which Ramanathapuram was the headquarters for nearly three centuries.

According to the official records, there were 22 big tanks in Ramanathapuram town alone. Since it encountered drinking water crisis for several decades, it was believed that tanks were created in all corners of the town basically to recharge the groundwater level and thereby supplying it to the residents.

As per the statistics of the municipality, 18 tanks were totally polluted, as storage of sewage water let in from nearby residential colonies, business houses and hotels for so long. Other ‘ooranies,’ including Chidambaram, Semmankundu and Kidavettu have also become the point of open gutters.

Most of them have become permanent sewage storage areas.

“The town may lack in proper planning in several aspects. But it was the best example in terms of existence of the ‘ooranies’ in and around three km radius that ultimately took care of the entire drinking water needs. Unfortunately, it has become a bad example of encroachments and opens gutters,” says M.A. Sundarrajan, president, Ramanathapuram District Consumer Protection Council.

Though there was a proposal about five years ago to revive all tanks in the town, it did not cross the planning stage. Environmentalists and public feel that it was a high time to rejuvenate all tanks considering the implementation of underground drainage scheme (UGD).

Mr. Sundarrajan added that once the UGD was over there was less chance for the people to discharge waste water into the ‘ooranies.’ Hence, the Municipal Administration should draw a plan of action to desilt and rehabilitate all tanks to bring back the past glory.