Raising a stink: Buckingham Canal threatening to overflow
With the monsoon continuing, water level in the stinking Buckingham Canal is threatening to cut off flooding adjacent areas from Tiruvanmiyur to Muttukadu.
Poor maintenance of the canal has greatly reduced its carrying capacity, due to enormous silt formation and encroachments on either side. This has eventually led to narrowing of its width. As per a submission made by the Public Works Department before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench, the planned canal widening from Tiruvanmiyur to Okkiyam Maduvu was 40 metres, but the actual component of works executed and documents submit- ted revealed the canal had been widened only up to 30m.
A check by this correspondent on Saturday showed how grim the situation was. In the stretch between Kottivakkam and Neelankarai, water had filled to the brim of the footbridges across the canal.
Vijayalakshmi, a resident of Neelankarai, expressed fear of flooding, similar to what had happened in 2015. The canal and houses adjoining the waterway were almost on the same level. This was due to the fact that there was no appreciable depth in the canal and there was no side bund for protection.
A makeshift bridge constructed by the local councillor recently had collapsed. In the same locality, there was a heavy flow of froth induced sewage flowing through the conduit into the canal pol- luting the water further. Residents feared that another two days of downpour was enough for the canal to overflow and submerge the houses.
Jawaharlal Shanmugam, a social activist, who has been fighting for the restoration of Buckingham Canal in the NGT from 2015, said it was time for a holistic approach by the government departments concerned to address the serious issue immediately.
Buckingham Canal is the only channel for flood water to drain into the sea after cutting across areas of economic importance such as Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) and many g ated communities.
It is ironic that in the name of urban development of OMR, basic civic amenities such as stormwater drains, sewer lines, drinking water and proper roads have not been provided all these years, residents said.
Today, a big portion of development had taken place in a marshy land, which had earlier been a wonderful waterbody and also a flood water carrier. Due to unprecedented torrential rain, the OMR corridor gets flooded even at the beginning of the Northeast monsoon.
Flood water from Tambaram and Selaiyur will have to reach Kelambakkam and Navalur, Thazhambur, Perumbakkam and Sholinganallur and drain into Pallikaranai marsh.
From there, it will traverse Okkiyam Maduvu to reach Buckingham Canal and ultimately reach Muttukadu to drain into the sea. Any obstruction in this path will be disastrous. PWD officials in two motorised boats remove a thick carpet of water hyacinth from Buckingham Canal on Sunday. The blanket of invasive species is obstructing free flow of water |