Kolathur's pools of Woes

VVIP constituency of Kolathur, despite having several ponds and storm water drains, was no exception to flooding as rains wrecked several Chennai areas last month. No wonder, flooding in the city was often described as a man-made disaster.
Kolathur's pools of Woes
GCC completed construction of a new drain but the contractor failed to remove obstructions


As the name suggests, Kolathur is an area with several ponds (kulam or kolam means pond in Tamil). But the ponds did not come to the aid of the residents of this VVIP constituency which elected Chief Minister MK Stalin to the Assembly during the November rains. Thanks to the indifference of the Greater Chennai Corporation in maintaining the ponds effectively to avoid local flooding incidents.
To identify the present state of some of the ponds, which are located in the worst-hit pockets of Kolathur, DT Next visited the area and found that all the visited ponds are in shambles.
“In 2019, the Chennai Corporation floated tenders in two packages to restore three ponds in Kolathur. Even after two years, works are yet to commence in two ponds. The tenders were worth around Rs 5 crore,” said Radhakrishnan of Arappor Iyakkam, who had extensively audited the ponds in Kolathur.
The three ponds, which were selected for restoration, are GKM Colony 24A Street pond, Silanthi Kuttai pond and 9th Street pond. During the visit, DT Next found that there is no approach path to the Silanthi Kuttai pond as houses have been constructed surrounding the pond.
A Arun, a resident and local activist, said the Chennai Corporation could not start the restoration of the Silanthi Kuttai Pond due to the pond being sandwiched between private land and houses. “There is no proper inlet and outlet. Also, the house owners surrounding the lake are encroaching on the pond by planting trees. If the Silanthi Kuttai pond is restored with proper inlet and outlet, this could have saved Rajiv Nagar and Rajaji Nagar, which are affected in November,” Arun said.
On the other hand, the 9th Street Pond in GKM Colony, which was also selected for restoration was found completely levelled up and construction was undergoing on the pond when DT Next visited the spot. There was an inlet to the pond that carried sewage water. Jai, a mechanic nearby, said the pond was levelled up eight months ago.
“When the pond was in its original state, water from nearby areas flowed into it and there was minimal flooding. This time, people had to wade through knee-deep floodwaters. Several small ponds in the locality are being converted into apartment buildings,” he added.
There was a board saying that the land (pond) belongs to Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board (TNUHDB).
Why the situation was better in GKM Colony this time around
Of the three ponds, which were selected for restoration, work was partially completed in GKM Colony 24A Street Pond as the civic body completed desilting. “Usually, waterlogging would occur in the streets in GKM Colony around the pond. However, this year rainwater entered the pond. This reduced the impact of the flood. Similar works in other ponds could have reduced flooding across Kolathur,” Arun said.
Apart from several ponds, Kolathur and its neighbouring areas have canals like Railway Canal, Thanikachalam Nagar Canal, Jawahar Canal, Otteri Nullah Canal, Ekangipuram Canal and Gandhi Nagar Canal, which can take flood water from storm water drains.
When asked, an official said the Chief Minister has instructed the civic body to restore the 9th Street pond by desilting and demolishing the under-construction building. “Also, shortcomings in the storm water drain network are being attended to. Also, we are in talks with house owners to get an access path to Silanthi Kuttai pond,” he added. 

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