Chennai shudders as floodgates of Chembarambakkam open

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November 17, 2015

CHENNAI: A sea of people cheered like tourists when the shutters were thrown open at the Chembarambakkam reservoir on Monday, discharging a few lakh litres of water every second into the Adyar River. About 30km downstream, hundreds of families along the river's banks in Chennai shuddered.

November 17, 2015

CHENNAI: A sea of people cheered like tourists when the shutters were thrown open at the Chembarambakkam reservoir on Monday, discharging a few lakh litres of water every second into the Adyar River. About 30km downstream, hundreds of families along the river's banks in Chennai shuddered.

The excess water added to the inundation of the banks, raising fears of a repeat of 2011 when Chembarambakkam overflowed. The overflowing, though a sign of a bountiful monsoon, does not augur well for the city's drainage system which is completely unprepared to manage the ensuing flood.

As the stream of discharged water make sits way through the Adyar to the Bay of Bengal, are as along the banks such as Pammal, Kulasekharapuram, Aiyappa Nagar, Chinmaya Nagar, Porur, Manapakkam, Jafferkhanpet, Nandambakkam, Saidapet and Kotturpuram are in danger of being flooded. As soon as the shutters were opened at Chembarambakkam, corporation teams went around areas along the Adyar, advising people to move to safer places. Government officials and volunteers of NGOs distributed food packets in Aiyappa Nagar and Chinmaya Nagar, and other places.

From her home in Manapakkam, S Sumathi, 45, had a clear view of the swelling Adyar. "It was like this in 2005," she said, packing her clothes to shift with her two children to her sister's place in a safer neighborhood. Across the road, in Burma Colony of Ramapuram, youngsters were taking selfies with the river as the backdrop. But the elders were wiser, making calls to relatives seeking shelter. "I was thinking of shifting to my brother's place in Villivakkam," said X Joseph, a resident of Burma Colony . "But the problem is his house is already in water."

Residents of the multi-storied Chaturbhaja Complex by the river in Manapakkam felt safer in the concrete structure. They said they had stocked up on food if they were to get marooned.

Downstream at Saidapet, 150 slum dwellers who lost their huts to gushing waters were shifted to a corporation school. "The school is full, we don't know where the others would go if more houses have to be vacated," said R Manimekalai, 30, a resident of Anna Nagar Lane. Officials said most of these houses stood on the river bed or banks that were encroached.

Back in Chembarambakkam, a retired PWD official said the water channel carrying the discharge could only handle water at about 500 cusecs (14,000 litres per second). By Monday night, the discharge from the reservoir was already 10,000 cusecs (2,80,000 litres per second).

The Chembarambakkam reservoir reached 90% of its water-holding capacity on Monday. The discharge is likely to continue until rainfall lasts this monsoon, leaving the southern part of the city vulnerable to more floods.

T K Ramkumar, a water resource management expert, said Chennai airport was likely to face the wrath of floods this year. "One of the runways at the airport runs right across the Adyar river. The effects of unplanned urbanisation will be felt across the city as long as it rains."

As on Monday evening, more than 13,000 cusecs of water was flowing into the Chembarambakkam reservoir from the catchment areas.


Courtesy: TNN

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