Saturday, Nov 02, 2002
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By Karthik Subramanian
The flooding at Velachery reached alarming levels, with water entering several households on Srinivasa Nagar, Bhagirathi Nagar, Saraswathi Nagar and Ram Nagar. Residents were literally forced to vacate their premises, leaving behind several household articles.
"The problems due to the construction of the MRTS railway embankment and lack of proper drainage facilities have been highlighted for several months now to the government but to no avail. It is no longer a question of inundation but one of endangering the lives of taxpayers. We are still waiting for an overall solution," said S.Vasudevan, president of the Federation of South Chennai Suburban Welfare Assocation.
Faced with a contingency, an emergency meeting was convened at the Ripon Buildings, the Chennai Corporation headquarters, which was attended by the Commissioner, M.Kalaivanan, the Police Commissioner, K.Vijayakumar, the Metrowater Managing Director, M.Deenadhayalan, the Slum Clearance Board Managing Director, Ambuj Sharma, and the Fire Service Director, S.K.Dogra. Later, the members attended a meeting with the Chief Minister to apprise her of the flood situation.
The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, has instructed the officials to clear the river mouths of Cooum, Adyar, Ennore and Muttkadu in coordination with the PWD.
The Corporation officials also said that desilting of the Mambalam Canal would be taken up with the PWD help and financial assistance from the HUDCO within a week. One lakh food packets were distributed. Each Corporation Zone was being allocated Rs.one lakh for relief work. A medical team would stand by in each zone to respond to emergencies.
The Corporation officials, who tried to break a compound wall near a private school on G.N.Chetty Road to drain the inundated water into Mambalam Canal, met with stiff resistance by the encroachers who had occupied the land near the canal. They pelted stones at the officials and the civic officials took the help of Police for the operation.
Apparently, the encroachers with the help of local goondas constructed the compound wall. They were not willing to take refuge in the Corporation school premises identified by the authorities. "Most of them were scared because the land would be up for the grabs if they leave it now," a senior civic official who supervised the operations said.
Valluvar Kottam Main Road too experienced similar problems because uncleared debris was blocking the draining of water into the Nungambakkam Canal. The debris was removed after much difficulty today, but still the road remained barely motorable.
Traffic on the Perambur Barracks Road was thrown out of gear after two MTC buses broke down. Water was stagnant on the road for several hours, and even four-wheelers had difficulty in passing the crucial stretch that connected Perambur and Doveton.
Similar bus breakdowns were also seen on Kodambakkam High Road and Gangadeeswaran Salai at Vepery. Several commuters were left stranded for hours in
a replay of Thursday's events.
Friday's efforts by the civic officials in managing the situation also turned focus on the sheer neglect the city's water ways have been facing over the previous years.
In particular, the Mambalam canal which has not been desilted since 1998 has been the root cause of inundation on G.N.Chetty Road. Residents also wondered whether multistoreyed construction in the area, including star hotels had provided for rainwater harvesting, which would reduce the run off to the road.
Cooum water enters Choolaimedu
Overflowing water from Cooum entered several areas in Choolaimedu area, sending a mixture of sewage and water into homes and commercial establishments.
The worst hit were Gill Nagar Gandhi Road, Azad Nagar, Kasturba Street, Kamaraj Nagar and nearby areas, off Nelson Manickam Road.
The Corporation officials said several voluntary agencies including the Red Cross and Nehru Yuva Kendra came forward to help in relief operations. Though till late evening, there were no reports of major evacuations, almost all the slum areas in the city were affected due to water logging.
Officials of the Chennai Corporation said the Corporation schools have been kept ready for housing the evacuees.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner suspended an Assistant Executive Engineer of the Town Planning Department and issued charge memos to two Assistant Revenue Officers in Mylapore Zone, for delay in executing flood relief operations.
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