Besant Nagar residents oppose SWD project as monsoon nears

Sekar Raghavan, an expert in constructing rainwater harvesting structures, warned the civic body of environmental consequences if it goes ahead with the project.
Representative Image
Representative Image

CHENNAI: Even as the Greater Chennai Corporation expedited the construction of stormwater drains across Chennai to make the metropolis ready for the monsoon season, residents in Besant Nagar oppose constructing drains in the locality.

Sekar Raghavan, director of Rain Centre and a resident of Kalakshetra Colony in Besant Nagar, said that Besant Nagar is very close to the sea with abundant sandy soil. "Any amount of rain would percolate into the soil. Now, the Chennai Corporation has commenced constructing the drains on some of the streets in Besant Nagar, " he added.

He said drains are constructed to collect rainwater from streets and runoff water from buildings and channelise to Buckingham Canal to drain rainwater into the sea. "Due to the sandy soil, the locality has good quality groundwater fit even for potable uses. It is important to sustain good quality by allowing the water into the soil to recharge the groundwater, " he said.

Sekar Raghavan, an expert in constructing rainwater harvesting structures, warned the civic body of environmental consequences if it goes ahead with the project. If groundwater recharging stops, the saline water intrusion from the sea would spoil the quality of groundwater, he added.

He recalled that the civic body tried to construct a stormwater drain near Besant Nagar Church before 2000 but the residents opposed the move. However, the civic body constructed the drain promising no new drains will be constructed in the locality. "Before starting the works, the civic body did not consult with the residents. Now, the residents are conducting a signature campaign," he said.

It may be noted that the civic body faced similar issues while starting a stormwater drain project in Kovalam Basin in South Chennai and residents approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The project was proposed under German Development Bank (kfW) funding. This forced the civic body to stop the works and redesign the drains.

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