Chennai: Residents of Velacheri were a happy lot after an illegal building near the Perungudi MRTS railway station, blocking the pathway that drains rainwater into the nearby marshland, was razed down months ago.
Sadly, debris from the demolition have been left piled up at the same spot. Earlier, these encroachments were hindering the pathway that drains rainwater from the residential areas into the Pallikaranai marshland and then into the sea. Fearing a repeat of the 2015 floods, residents of the area took up the issue and won the legal battle. The building was brought down. It was not only a victory for the residents, but also a strong message to land grabbers.
M Balakrishnan, Secretary of Welfare Association, Tansi Nagar, said, “In 2018, a few private influential people occupied this area and built a compound wall around the culvert, thus blocking rainwater from passing through it. Although the structures are demolished now, the debris are still lying around. Rainwater is neither being conserved nor is it allowed to flow freely. This might pose a serious threat during the monsoon. If water does not properly drain through this way, it might lead to floods in the surrounding areas.”
It is said the groundwater level in nearby areas, such as Anna Nagar, Venus Colony, Balakrishna Nagar, VGP Selva Nagar and Bhuvaneshwari Nagar, has gone down, wells have completely dried up and people living here are fully dependent on tanker lorries for their daily needs.
Based on a petition submitted by Tansi Nagar Welfare Association on 17 June to the Chennai Corporation Commissioner to remove the debris around the culvert and enable the place to store rainwater, which could be the source of supply to the areas in and around Velacheri, Cheif Engineer, Zonal Officer (Zone 13), Executive Engineer and Assistant Executive Engineer of Chennai Corporation visited the place and promised to do the needful before the onset of monsoon season.