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Friday, November 26, 2021

Torrential rains ! time to appreciate Conservancy workers & others !!

It rained so heavily (especially mid-noon – continuous heavy showers for approx 40 mins !) leaving many places inundated and water-logged .. .. with so many weather bloggers mushrooming – perhaps it is worth a try stating the obvious ‘it may rain heavily’.  [remember Idi Amin aka Madhan Bob in Mazhai movie] – the official reports are readily available at IMD Chennai and this picture does instill fear. 

Rain causes great inconvenience, especially in a metropolis like Chennai which remains always not ready for the challenges of the torrential showers.  When it pounded Chennai, traffic is hit as rainwater finds little or no way to go into the drain – an officer was heard recently explaining technically that the river at Saidapet was overflowing higher than the exit points of drainage from Mambalam and hence the water stagnation .. .. plausible, but what could have been done and what was done! 

Then there is problem of garbage .. .. According to Chennai Corporation data, 6,407 tonnes of waste was collected across the city on a Saturday, apart from 511 tonnes of debris, when it rained.  The rain presents a massive problem and conservancy workers (as also Electricity, Forest, Fire fighting, Police, Corporation and many others) work extensively clearing the debris / tree branches (sometimes they have to be cut to be removed and without electricity it becomes tedious) – we could see such workers fighting the rain and other odds in helping us out and is it not our duty to be kind and friendly with them.  Here is a photo of a conservancy worker in our area happily posing in normal times ! and SYMA honouring conservancy staff of Urbaser Sumeet at Triplicane on an earlier occasion.  The civic body intensified the conservancy operations soon after the rains by deploying workers to carry out night conservancy and additional machinery to collect and transport the waste. 

What goes out – comes back too !!  - the floods triggered by heavy rain in the last few days may have flushed out waste from the Cooum and Adyar rivers, but the currents have pushed it all back to land, in particular to the Elliot's and Marina beaches. A team from city-based National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) visited the two beaches on November 21 and found large quantities of garbage on the Elliot's beach at Besant Nagar, while the Marina had puddles of water mixed with sewage.  In a 2018 article published in 'Current Science', NCCR scientists said nearly one lakh tonnes of debris including plastic, rubber and thermacol were pushed to the Chennai coast during the December 2015 floods. Similarly, after a heavy spell in November 2017 triggered a flood-like situation, measurements at the mouths of the two rivers and the Marina, Elliot's and Thiruvanmiyur beaches revealed a majority of the waste was plastic.   

Then to the ethereal Q – does such massive volume of rain solve City’s water problem.  Sadly a BIG NO as this report in The New  Indian Express captioned “Chennai wastes nearly 2 years’ water supply in just 20 days” states. Some excerpts. 

             The amount of water let into the sea over the past three weeks could have catered to Chennai’s water needs for one-and-a-half years. According to official sources, over 20 thousand million cubic ft (TMC) of water was released from five major reservoirs in the city (which supply drinking water) since November 6. With Chennai’s water requirement being 1 TMC per month, about 20 months’ supply was wasted. Even on Thursday, as much as 2,000 cusecs of water continued to be released from the Chembarambakkam and Red Hills reservoirs.  Public Works Department officials said they would wait for the rains to subside before beginning desilting work. Currently, water is being released in phases to avoid inundation in the low-lying areas, officials said.  

However, experts pointed out that no lessons were learnt after the 2015 deluge, when drinking water that would suffice for 25 years was wasted. “After facing the worst drought in 2019, the reservoirs were neither desilted nor deepened even when they were bone dry. Moreover, the run-off (the amount of rainwater wasted) is 80 per cent,” said S Janakarajan, water conservation expert. Chennai has nearly 4,200 small waterbodies and an average annual rainfall of 140 cm. A retired professor from the State Water Resources department, P Ramachandran said, with such heavy rainfall, if water is stored, there would be no need for desalination plants to meet drinking water needs.  

Sad is the state of affairs – no political post this .. .. heavy rains are predicted, stay safe, help others, try to keep your surroundings clean, do not litter garbage, and support Conservancy and other workers who do yeoman service in making our lives easy. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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