December 20, 2015
Despite the fact that people blamed the ruling AIADMK government for opening the excess water of the Chembarambakkam lake, which reportedly caused the Chennai deluge, the fact remains that it was the rampant encroachments along the river bunds and water bodies that slowly covered up the pathway of water over a period of time, causing the devastation in the state capital.
Focus has now shifted to such encroachments in other parts of the state, including Coimbatore.
According to residents along the Sungam Bypass Road, near the Valankulam water tank, there was a canal that traditionally carried water to the farmlands near Nanjundapuram and later to the Singanallur water tank.
“Usually, water from the Noyyal is diverted to various tanks through such canals. These canals kept the tanks with enough water and averted flooding. There was one such canal linked from Valankulam that travels four to five kilometres to reach Nanjundapuram,” said a septuagenarian resident.
The resident, who has been living the area for more than ten years now, said that encroachments on the canal began more than twenty years ago and added that there is always a threat of flooding.
Sources claim that the ten-feet-wide canal, which originates close to the Ukkadam Sungam Rail over-bridge, has been completely blocked with houses built right on it.
“We do not know why the water from the tank to the canal was blocked with a gate at the tank itself. It has been more than twenty years since water flowed in the canal. This has led the encroachers to construct buildings on it,” said another resident.
About five years ago, some men tried to break the gate to let the water flow in the canal. “We fought over the issue and stopped it. If they had managed to break the gate, most of the areas starting from Shanmugha Nagar, RG Nagar, and KP Nagar, right up to Indira Nagar, could have been submerged in water as it has no other place to go,” he added.
He further added that the corporation officials have managed to direct the water from the tank towards Sungam through underground drainage system, but he predicted that if a situation like Chennai deluge occurs, the areas could easily get flooded.
Reacting to this, S. Kanagasundaram, the technical convener of the Licensed Building Surveyor’s Association, the town planning authorities should not have allowed constructions in the area as it was low-lying. “We have been asking the civic bodies to clear out the encroachments from low lying areas as they are basically water bodies,” he said.
However, Corporation Commissioner K. Vijayakarthikeyan told the Covai Post that clearing out encroachments and linking water bodies are among the top priorities of the smart city plan that the Corporation will soon to submit to the central government. “Encroachments will be strictly dealt with once identified,” he said.
It may be noted that the areas adjoining the Sanganur canal are frequently flooded during the monsoons and the civic body should work sooner to avert such scenarios in the future.